Florea resigns over disagreement with Bainbridge housing board

A disagreement in funding policy between HRB Executive Director Carl Florea and the nonprofit's board of director has led to Florea's resignation, effective Oct. 31.

Florea, who joined the Bainbridge Island Housing Resources Board in March 2007, said after HRB announced his decision that the split has been amicable. He informed the board of his decision last month, but held off announcing it until the affordable housing group celebrated its 20th anniversary last week.

Florea was hesitant to reveal details of his decision to leave other than saying: "It was not a good fit. We had different views of our roles. They think I wanted too much freedom and I just told them what I needed. It didn't work out."

Florea and HRB had successfully embarked on an ambitious 48-unit affordable-housing development off Ferncliff Avenue during the last year. The project received a boost in August when the Bainbridge Island City Council approved an ordinance that encourages developments such as the one on Ferncliff, which Florea had expected would begin next spring with the first-phase construction of 16 units.

Del Miller, chair of HRB's board, said the difference in opinion involved "the degree of conservatism between the board and Carl in regard to using funds, specifically for Ferncliff. Carl wanted us to put our operating reserves for our rental projects into Ferncliff, and the board didn't want to do that. I guess that caused him more heartburn than we thought it would."

Miller said he was surprised Florea resigned because he didn't think it was a serious disagreement.

"Carl was uncomfortable with the board wanting to be careful with our the finances," Miller said. "Funding for our projects come in stages, with one grant and then another. He was confident we'd get what we needed (for Ferncliff), but we'd prefer having the money before we spend it. I guess he just felt a little stress from our oversight."

Florea said the disagreement grew over several months, but it was one he thought could be worked out because staff and boards of nonprofits often have such problems.

"It became obvious we just weren't going in the same direction," Florea said. "I believe in the organization and where it's going, and I still support it. It's just time for me to look for a better fit."

Florea, 55, said he's not leaving with any regrets.

"I have given them value and I am leaving the job better than when I found it," "he said. "It's a good organization... we just have different leadership ideas."

He added that he and his wife hope to stay in the community. The Floreas moved to Bainbridge from Leavenworth, where he had worked for 22 years.

"My wife loves her job as a nurse at Swedish Medical Center, and I'm just dumb enough to think I'll be able to find a job in the area that will allow us to stay here," he said.

Miller said the board will begin a national search soon. Cooper began working at HRB in January 2006 and was named associated director early this year.

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