The Philadelphia Housing Authority board is out and a federally-appointed receiver is now in control of the agency. The board’s final action was to cede power in an effort to rebuild after the departure of former executive director Carl Greene.
“I have no plans to resign tomorrow,” said PHA board chairman John Street on Thursday. A day later, he and the other members of the PHA board decided it was time to turn over control of the housing agency to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. Deputy HUD Secretary Ron Sims said turning over control is in everyone’s best interest.
“This action by HUD is not unprecedented we have taken similar action at other housing authorities, restored confidence and returned local control and we plan to do the same in Philadelphia,” said Sims.
Sims said HUD’s decision to appoint their Chief Operating Officer Estelle Richman as receiver is important. “She will work with the interim Executive Director Michael Kelly to make the necessary reforms,” said Sims. “Miss Richman is uniquely suited for this role since she was the former Pennsylvania Secretary of Public Welfare, the former managing director of the city of Philadelphia and director of Social Services for the city of Philadelphia.”
Mayor Michael Nutter said he is pleased. “We will continue to work in partnership with the Philadelphia Housing Authority, and the focus has to stay on the residents, the children, the families, the tenants of this great organization,” he said.
Former board member Nellie Renyolds is being appointed resident liaison. But there was trepidation among the public housing tenants attending the meeting.
Interim PHA executive director Michael Kelly said they shouldn’t worry. “The practices and the principals that have made the Philadelphia Housing Authority so blessed to have resident input in the policy and decision making will continue through this administrative receivership,” he said.