PHA Returns to Local Control

New Board

PHA returned to local control and a new Board of Commissioners formally took office. Former Commissioner Estelle Richman, Board Chairperson Lynette M. Brown-Sow, PHA President & CEO Kelvin A. Jeremiah, Rev. Bonnie Camarda, Kenneth A. Murphy, Esq., Joan Markman, Esq., the Honorable Nelson A. Diaz, Shellie R. Jackson, Rev. Leslie D. Callahan, Vernell Tate, and Herbert Wetzel celebrate the end of HUD receivership. 

(PHILADELPHIA, PA - April 26, 2013) - The Philadelphia Housing Authority ("PHA") returned to local control as its new Board of Commissioners formally took office.  U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") Assistant Secretary Sandra B. Henriquez presented a declaration to the City releasing the agency from federal control during PHA's board meeting.

Since March 2011, PHA has been under HUD control with Estelle B. Richman, Senior Advisor to the HUD Secretary, serving as the sole member of the board.  She has been replaced by nine new members, who were appointed by Mayor Michael A. Nutter and approved by City Council.

"I take pride and pleasure in having this opportunity to leave this agency with the team we have in place," said Richman. "The time has come for HUD to step aside and allow this agency to continue the progress it has made independent of the federal government." 

Under a law passed by the Pennsylvania General Assembly last year, the number of board members was increased from five to nine, with the Mayor nominating all Commissioners, subject to approval by the City Council. Pursuant to the new law, two of the Commissioners are currently PHA residents.

"I want to thank U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, Assistant Secretary Sandra Henriquez and Estelle Richman, the Secretary's senior advisor who acted as PHA's sole board member through this time of transition. I deeply appreciate their cooperation and support. Now, with PHA's return to local control, the City of Philadelphia has the opportunity to better coordinate housing policy, related investment decisions and neighborhood revitalization in a transparent and coherent manner that involves all housing agencies and stakeholders for the benefit of the people who live in PHA housing and all Philadelphians," said Mayor Michael A. Nutter. "Equally important, the re-establishment of local control with a new governance structure means real accountability. The Authority in all its actions is responsible to the Mayor who, in turn, is answerable to the voters. This significant reform could not have been achieved without the strong support of the Philadelphia City Council, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, the Pennsylvania Senate and Gov. Corbett. Under PHA President Kelvin Jeremiah's leadership, PHA has instituted strong internal controls, and now with a talented PHA Board of Commissioners prepared to carry out its duties, a new era of accountability, responsibility and transparency begins that will benefit PHA residents and staff and all Philadelphians."

Over the last two years, PHA has put in place stricter internal controls, a stronger management structure, and a robust audit and compliance department. The agency also has a fully functional Human Resources Department and Office of General Counsel (OGC).  The Human Resources staff has trained all employees on the rules of engagement, including, but not limited to, standards of ethical conduct, Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO), and anti-fraud policies. The OGC is sufficiently staffed with highly-skilled attorneys who are capable of performing functions that were previously outsourced.

"Thanks to the collective leadership and the support of HUD, Mayor Nutter and Council President Darrell Clarke, PHA is ready to revert to local control after more than two years in receivership. This, along with strong internal controls, an experienced executive staff and a dedicated board, has truly equipped the agency to operate efficiently and effectively for years to come." said Kelvin Jeremiah, PHA President & CEO. "I believe this committed board, with its wide range of experiences in the community, can govern the agency in a thoughtful and highly ethical manner. Today marks an important achievement for PHA and its staff.  We are no longer looking to the past with regret and disappointment. Instead, we are looking forward-to the future, to seize the opportunities it holds, and to take back PHA's good name and reclaim its legacy."

Prior to their seating, the board members received extensive training from PHA and HUD, including sessions on Ethical Conduct, Conflict of Interest, EEO and the Fair Housing Act.  They have also been attending resident and board meetings. The new Commissioners are:

  • Lynette M. Brown-Sow - Vice President of Marketing and Government Relations for Community College of Philadelphia.
  • Leslie D. Callahan, PhD - Pastor of St. Paul's Baptist Church in North Philadelphia.
  • Rev. Bonnie Camarda - Director of Partnerships for the Salvation Army of Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware.
  • Hon. Nelson A. Diaz - a former City Solicitor, Common Pleas Court Judge, and General Counsel for HUD who currently serves as a Partner at Dilworth Paxson, LLP.
  • Shellie R. Jackson - a PHA resident who lives at Hill Creek Apartments in Northeast Philadelphia.
  • Joan Markman, Esq. - the city's Chief Integrity Officer and a former Assistant United States Attorney.
  • Kenneth A. Murphy, Esq. - a Partner and Vice-Chair of the Products Liability and Mass Tort Practice Group at Drinker Biddle & Reath, LLP.
  • Vernell Tate - a PHA resident and President of the Spring Garden Resident Council, located just north of Center City.
  • Herbert Wetzel - the Executive Director of Housing and Community Development for City Council.

PHA Board meetings will now be held every third Thursday of the month. The next board meeting is May 16, 2013 at 3pm.