Investigations at Philadelphia Housing Authority reveal corruption
On Wednesday, a former contracts manager at the Philadelphia Housing Authority was sentenced to 50 months in prison for taking $25,000 in kickbacks. The woman reportedly handled small construction contracts worth less than $25,000.
Those contracts, according to sources, were usually awarded to small businesses that sought to do repair, renovation or maintenance work for the housing authority. Her job was to oversee the contracts process, evaluate bids and get payments to contractors. In May, she admitted to extorting the money from two contractors and attempting to prevent one of the contractors from disclosing the payments.
Surprisingly, her defense attorney argued for leniency due to the fact that the Philadelphia Housing Authority was marked by a “prevailing atmosphere of corruption,” and that she learned the behavior from those in senior positions. As part of her plea agreement, she is supposed to be cooperative with an ongoing investigation at the PHA.
The recent sentencing is only one of many investigations involving the housing agency. The former Executive Director was fired back in 2010 after multiple sexual harassment complaints were filed. More house-cleaning is bound to come.
The Philadelphia Housing Authority is a city-run agency providing public housing services throughout the city. It is essentially the largest landlord in Philadelphia. The PHA receives most of its $371 million budget through the federal government, and federal authorities are investigating how federal funds have been used there. The federal government has been investigating the housing authority since last year.
The investigations are revealing a number of troubling facts about how business was run at the PHA. It isn’t clear how long the process will take, but hopefully things get cleaned up and normal, routine, ethical business resumes.
Source: Philly.com, “Former official at the Philadelphia Housing Authority sentenced for taking kickbacks,” Jennifer Lin, August 9, 2012