At Richman’s first PHA meeting, audit shows agency is doing well

The Philadelphia Housing Authority held its first board meeting since the ouster of the entire board earlier this month.  Standing in for the five former members, for now, is U.S. Housing and Urban Development Chief Operating Officer Estelle Richman.

After hearing a presentation on the newest audit of PHA, Estelle Richman encountered the first difficulty of being a one person board.

“I’m not quite sure how I do this,” Richman told the crowded public meeting, pondering how to proceed with a board vote.  “I can move it.  I can second it.  I can vote.  I can truly talk to myself or I can sit in a room with mirrors and talk to myself, but in any case, if we can record in the minutes that the audit report has been accepted.”

The report gave a largely positive assessment of PHA’s fiscal stability and public accountability despite the agency’s well publicized financial irregularities.  PHA is under investigation from HUD for large payments to outside law firms.  Former CEO Carl Greene left under a cloud of controversy about his management of the agency and sexual harassment lawsuits.

Richman says she’s new to the job, but she and Greene’s temporary replacement, Michael Kelly, will make sure the audit was thorough.

“Both of us have experience in the past at dealing with audits, and I think we’ll look at this one and use some of our administrative experience to decide whether or not we need to go deeper and further,” she said.

Richman approved designating an ethics officer to implement new policies at PHA.

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