The Philadelphia’s Housing Authority, the operation that manages the city’s public housing, has returned to local control.
After agreeing to an $8.2 million settlement with the federal government to resolve questionable legal expenses under the previous board, Estelle Richman relinquished control to a board made up of appointees from Mayor Michael Nutter and City Council.
Newly minted chair Lynette Brown Sow says the new commissioners will be more actively involved with the authority’s operations.
“I think that, if you listen to the issues just as a layperson and the residents, you have questions,” she said. “And you ask questions and you ask the right questions until you get the right answers.”
City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell was upset that she was disqualified from serving on the board.
“You mean that the mayor changed the rules so no elected official could serve, absolutely,” she said, vowing that she will continue serving in an unofficial capacity.
“I look forward to being here in season and out of season. I’ll be here when they meet on the third Thursday at 3,” Blackwell said. “It is my passion, so I’ll look forward to doing what I can to help this population.”
Philadelphia Housing Authority CEO Kelvin Jeremiah says it’s a new day for the public housing agency.
“After more than two years in receivership, the bar has been set real high for this board and for the new management of PHA,” Jeremiah said. “The expectation is that we will be moving aggressively to address, among other things, our financial positioning. As a result of sequestration, we have lost $32 million.”
Former Mayor John Street, a previous PHA board chairman before the receivership, says he wishes the group nothing but the best.