Once again a director of the Philadelphia Housing Authority is involved in a sex scandal.
Michael P. Kelly who was brought on as director of PHA after a scandal involving his predecessor, Carl R. Greene toppled him, has admitted that he left the housing agency because of an affair with a senior aide.
Kelly cited “family reasons” for his sudden resignation last Friday. On Monday, it was announced that he had been named to head Washington, D.C.’s Department of Housing and Community Development.
But apparently there was more to the story.
PHA staffers had complained to officials at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that Kelly was having a consensual affair with a woman he had appointed to a senior staff position.
“After questions began to be raised, the 38-year-old woman who was here on a work visa suddenly resigned three weeks ago and went back to her native country,” WPVI’s Dann Cuellar reported Monday.
Kelly, 58, a married father of three, admitted Tuesday in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer that he resigned after federal officials learned of his affair with a PHA manager.
Karen Newton Cole, chief of human resources at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said HUD started the review after receiving a tip from a PHA employee in early spring. The employee claimed that Audrey Lim was receiving preferential treatment as a result of a relationship with Kelly.
HUD oversaw an investigation that determined there were no illegal payments and that the relationship was consensual. When confronted Kelly, admitted to the affair.
“It’s the latest in a series of scandals at the Philadelphia Housing Authority,” said State Representative Michael McGeehan.
Unfortunately McGeehan, a longtime critic of the agency is right.
When Kelly arrived at PHA in December 2010 it was during a period of major upheaval for an agency rocked by scandal.
Kelly took over the agency after Greene was fired in September 2012 after the board of directors discovered that Greene used approximately $900,000 of federal money for multiple sexual-harassment complaint settlements. There are federal investigations under way on the scandal.
Kelly had been credited with bringing reform to PHA, which provides homes for 80,000 low-income people and has an annual budget of $400 million.
Now it appears that Kelly was unable to adhere to the standards of his reforms.
An argument could be made that the transition plan that Kelly instituted to establish a culture of respect, accountability and transparency, was at work when staffers felt comfortable and empowered enough to report on their new boss.
Regardless of the impressive accomplishments made by Kelly in his brief tenure at PHA, it was for the best for him to resign to ensure the trust of PHA employees and taxpaying public that the beleaguered housing agency has been truly reformed.