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Article updated: 7/12/2013 4:09 PM

Old boss back at Lake County Housing Authority

By Bob Susnjara

David Northern has been rehired to lead the Lake County Housing Authority four months after taking a top job in Philadelphia.

Lake County Housing Authority board members voted 7-0 at a meeting Thursday to reappoint Northern to his executive director/chief executive officer post. In March, Northern left Lake County to become the $155,000-a-year executive vice president of housing operations at the Philadelphia Housing Authority, the fourth-largest in the country.

As part of the move to bring back Northern, board members voted 7-0 in favor of a voluntary separation agreement for his replacement, Jeneen Smith-Underwood, who had been deputy director when she was elevated.

In a statement issued Friday, Northern said he made the decision to return to the Lake County housing agency "when given the opportunity." He said he missed his clients, staff and servicing the Lake County community.

Lake County Housing Authority board Chairman R. Delacy Peters praised Northern.

"David's expertise in affordable housing, his understanding of Lake County and the communities it serves -- as well as his in-depth comprehension of the organization's goals and objectives -- will provide the leadership the authority needs to meet the ever-increasing challenges of the future."

Philadelphia Housing Authority spokeswoman Nichole Tillman didn't return email or telephone messages regarding Northern since Thursday.

Lake County Housing Authority is the fourth-largest such agency in Illinois. Public funding for the quasi-governmental agency primarily comes from the federal government.

Headquartered near Grayslake, the housing authority serves about 3,500 families. Among the authority's properties are Gurnee's Warren Manor, Hawley Manor in Grayslake, Shiloh Tower in Zion, John Kuester Manor in Wauconda, Beach Haven Tower in Round Lake Beach and Antioch's Orchard Manor and Millview Manor.

Northern's "post-resignation agreement" was approved by the Lake County agency Feb. 21, about two weeks before his hiring was announced by the Philadelphia Housing Authority. Smith-Underwood was appointed to replace Northern as executive director/CEO at the same meeting.

Philadelphia officials said in March they were fortunate to have landed Northern, who was supposed to manage day-to-day operations, including scattered-site housing and conventional developments.

Northern was named Lake County Housing Authority's boss in 2008. He started there as deputy executive director in 2002.

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