HUD’s Donovan assures Congress agency is reining in PHA

At a House Financial Services Committee hearing Tuesday, federal housing officials said they are taking strong action to rein in the Philadelphia Housing Authority. At the hearing, U.S Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick, a Bucks County Republican, showed he is not happy with the news coming out of the Philadelphia Housing Authority,”In connection with the Philadelphia Housing Authority, since the former Executive Director Carl Greene was fired in September, a lot of questionable spending has come to light including karaoke, yodelers, belly dancers, thousands in outside lobbying and outside legal fees,” Fitzpatrick said.Fitzpatrick asked federal Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan why HUD didn’t catch the problems at the PHA sooner.Donovan said clearly there are things HUD can do to step up its oversight of troubled housing authorities, and to take substantial actions when necessary.”We’ve cut off their excessive spending on outside legal counsel, we brought in a very experienced executive director to take over the Housing Authority,” said Donovan.  “As you rightly point out, we did call for the board to step down and we will be working with the inspector general and a forensic auditor that we brought in that came to Philadelphia on Friday to make sure we get to the bottom of this.”   Donovan said to catch problems before they happen, a dedicated team is being set up to look at financial data more systematically.  He said that team could be sent in at the first signs of financial mismanagement.  On Friday, federal housing officials called on the PHA board, including former Mayor John Street, to step down.  The board has refused.

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