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Neil Albert, the chair of the D.C. Housing Authority’s board of commissioners, will resign, according to a source familiar with Albert’s thinking. Albert’s resignation comes after revelations that he approved contracts worth millions of dollars for a “female companion,” as first reported by District Dig.
One contract to produce a master plan for the housing authority’s Capper/Carrollsburg site near the Navy Yard was worth $350,000. Paola Moya, the CEO of Moya Design Partners, has only delivered a draft of the document, District Dig reported. A second contract was worth about $3.75 million, according to District Dig. A source familiar with the situation tells Loose Lips that Moya has asked the agency to cancel that contract.
Albert did not respond to an email or return a phone message seeking comment. Moya did not return a message left with someone at her office Tuesday morning.
Property records show Albert and Moya purchased homes together in D.C. and in North Carolina. The two purchased the D.C. home in the North Portal Estates neighborhood, at the very tippy top of the District, in 2019 for about $1 million, according to property records first reported by District Dig.
Albert previously served as a deputy mayor for mayors Tony Williams and Adrian Fenty, and later as Fenty’s city administrator. He is currently president and CEO of the D.C. Downtown Business Improvement District and for a time shared an office with Moya’s firm on K Street NW. It’s unclear whether he will continue as the BID’s CEO. Moya’s firm produced multiple reports for the Downtown BID, according to her firm’s website, where she says the BID is a “repeat client.”
Albert’s departure is a blow to Mayor Muriel Bowser‘s influence on the board. She initially nominated Albert in 2017 and again in 2019 for a spot on DCHA’s board of commissioners, and he was approved in January 2020. At-Large Councilmember Elissa Silverman and former At-Large Councilmember David Grosso voted against Albert’s nomination. Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon White voted “present.” Albert’s term expires in 2022.
By law, the mayor appoints five DCHA board members in addition to her deputy mayor for planning and economic development, who sits as an ex-officio commissioner on the 11-member board. The D.C. Council recently increased the commission to 13 members, with one additional member nominated by the mayor and the other by the Council. Some councilmembers have criticized the board’s make-up. Under the current iteration, matters are often decided on a 6-5 vote in favor of mayoral appointees.
Albert’s contracting scandal is yet another glaring indication of disfunction at the housing authority, whose core mission is housing D.C.’s poorest residents. DCHA is in charge of more than 50 public housing properties and administers rental and housing assistance programs.
In the past year, LL has reported on an audit that found about $1.3 million in wasted funds stemming from contracting issues, retaliation by top agency officials against DCHA’s now-former internal auditor, a whistleblower who was concerned about potentially counterfeit masks, removal of a commissioner who was asking questions about the whistleblower’s claims, a culture of harassment and bullying inside the housing authority’s police department, and another commissioner who is accused of showing aggressive and threatening behavior to DCHA employees.
In May, the board of commissioners opted not to renew former executive director Tyrone Garrett‘s contract. Then in an about-face from a promised national search for his replacement, the board, under Albert’s leadership, voted in a hastily called meeting to install Bowser ally Brenda Donald as director.