Housing Agency Spent Thousands of Dollars on Belly Dancers, Luxury Bags

Avni Patel, Brian Ross and John Solomon, ABC News and Center for Public Integrity, January 27, 2011

The nation’s fourth-largest housing authority spent lavishly on gifts for managers and a party with belly dancers, and its executive secretly spent more than $500,000 in housing authority funds to settle sexual harassment claims, but it allegedly ignored complaints of unsanitary conditions that nearly killed a 12-year-old resident.

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In Philadelphia, under the leadership of former executive director Carl Greene, the local housing authority spent $17,000 for a 2006 event, including $1,200 for a troupe of belly dancers. Photos of the event, obtained by ABC News, show Greene dancing with the exotically dressed women. A Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) spokeswoman said the event, which also included yodelers and karaoke, was a part of the housing authority’s “diversity awareness” training.

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Greene also used housing authority funds to buy gifts, including a $16,000 purchase from Nordstrom for $800 Tumi travel bags for himself and 19 of his top managers in 2009.

“For 12 years, 13 years he’s had free reign at the housing authority, and I can’t explain it,” said Michael Pileggi, a former housing authority attorney who now represents former PHA employees suing Greene and the housing authority. “It appears there was no fiscal oversight.”

greene

Carl Greene (center) inspects the Philadelphia Housing Authority’s diversity-training program.

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