The housing authority oversees the District’s stock of 52 public housing complexes and helps manage and fund 23 mixed-income properties that provide homes to low-income residents. More than 50,000 Washingtonians live in properties owned or operated by DCHA, according to the agency.
Brenda Donald, the DCHA executive director who took over the housing agency in June, said Friday that the agency would cooperate with any independent investigations.
“I’m really transparent,” Donald said, noting the council committee’s letter “suggests allegations of previous activities and behaviors under a previous administration.”
The resignation of Neil Albert, who for the past four years served as the chair of the DCHA board of commissioners, sparked renewed calls for transparency and accountability this week. The outcry followed a series of stories published on the website District Dig alleging Albert voted in June to approve a board resolution naming his partner’s business, Moya Design Partners, among a group of architectural firms qualified to participate in the agency’s contracting process.
Bowser, who appointed Albert as the board’s chair in 2017, asked the D.C. Board of Ethics and Government Accountability (BEGA), which oversees conflict-of-interest disclosures and investigates allegations of ethical violations, to look further into Albert’s management of DCHA’s board and whether he violated any conflict-of-interest rules.
Later that same day, D.C. Council member Anita Bonds (D-At Large), who oversees the D.C. Council’s housing committee, sent a letter asking BEGA and the OIG to investigate the housing authority’s dealings with Moya, which withdrew from its business contract with DCHA on Oct. 16.
Friday’s letter to the Office of the Inspector General — which was signed by Bonds and council members Kenyan R. McDuffie (D-Ward 5), Brooke Pinto (D-Ward 2), Elissa Silverman (D-At Large) and Robert C. White Jr. (D-At Large) — asks that the investigative agency broaden the scope of its inquiry to include the housing authority in its totality and other members of the agency’s board.
The letter also made reference to two petitions asking that a judge issue anti-stalking orders against one of the commissioners who sits on DCHA’s board. According to a report in the Washington City Paper, the commissioner threatened to fire a staff member for refusing to comply with a request to take action against a colleague. The petition does not offer any further information.
“Multiple DCHA employees reached out to members of the Council’s Committee on Housing and Executive Administration to share concerns about actions taken at the agency and whether their disclosures would provide them with whistleblower protection,” the council’s letter says. “These discussions have all shared common allegations of procurement improprieties, conflicts of interest, intimidation, and abuse of power.”