Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Who's to blame for mess at PHA

Over at his blog Off Mic, WHYY Senior reporter Dave Davies makes an important point about the mess at the Philadelphia Housing Authority. Yes, Carl Greene and the board behaved badly. But they aren’t the only ones to blame for the situation.

Who's to blame for mess at PHA

Over at his blog Off Mic, WHYY Senior reporter Dave Davies makes an important point about the mess at the Philadelphia Housing Authority. Yes, Carl Greene and the board behaved badly. But they aren’t the only ones to blame for the situation.  

It was interesting to read that U.S. Rep. Bob Brady wrote a letter attacking the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which has been tearing into the Philadelphia Housing Authority lately for wasteful spending and other sins.

"Why were PHA's problems NEVER caught by HUD?" Brady wrote to HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan.

This is personal for Brady, since his wife Debra is one of the former PHA board members who've been blamed for not minding the agency as they should.

I don't want to defend either Brady on PHA here, but I will say the Congressman has a point.

In my years of covering city government, HUD has been good at coming in with critical, sometimes nitpicking audits years after misdeeds were done, frequently after they were exposed by newspaper reports.

They've never been on top of problems as they occurred.

So to the list of those who should have done more to root out problems at PHA – which includes the board and us in the media, I'd add HUD.

What do you think? Does HUD share some responsibility for what happened? How should oversight be improved to prevent these kinds of issues in the future?

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Every year, city government spends slightly more than $4 billion. Where does all that money come from? More importantly, where does it go? Are we getting the most bang for our tax buck? “It's Our Money” is a joint project between Philadelphia Daily News and WHYY, funded by the William Penn Foundation, designed to answer these questions.

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