DC Housing Authority Headquarters
DC Housing Authority headquarters. Credit: Darrow Montgomery/file

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The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will begin a weeklong, on-site assessment of the D.C. Housing Authority in mid-February, according to a letter from HUD’s regional public housing director, Marilyn O’Sullivan.

The letter, dated Dec. 28, 2021, alerts DCHA that its federal overseer will “assess the DCHA’s performance in managing its public housing and Housing Choice Voucher programs,” through interviews and a review of documents dating back to Oct. 1, 2019.

The letter asks DCHA to gather and make available a long list of materials including minutes from board of commissioners meetings, wage and earning statements, a list of all bank accounts, budgeted expenditures versus actual expenditures, a list of HUD-funded programs, DCHA’s procurement policy, and a list of contracts “closed and open, including names and amounts of contracts,” among other items.

The review comes after a year marred with scandal throughout DCHA, including issues with lead remediation and infighting, allegations of intimidation and retaliation from staff, abuse in its police department, contracting shenanigans, and what appears to be favoritism when considering rent increases and contract awards.

A HUD spokesperson says via email that HUD conducts these types of assessments of public housing authorities every three to five years and that many were postponed due to the pandemic.

“For this particular review, we feel it is important to be onsite and not conduct a truncated virtual review in an effort to get a clear picture of the [housing authority’s] operations and administration of our public housing and voucher programs,” the spokesperson says in the email.

DCHA Director Brenda Donald says the agency will fully cooperate with HUD’s review. She notes in an email to City Paper that HUD conducted a similar review in 2017.