A group of landlords is suing the Philadelphia Housing Agency over claims that it forced them to take a training course and pay fees to a non-profit agency, which was a front for a lobbying group headed by recently-fired PHA Executive Director Carle R. Greene. Section 8 housing is typically apartments that have been earmarked for low-income families and individuals and which are subsidized by the federal government.
The defendants in the lawsuit are Greene, three current PHA executives, three former PHA executives, and the head of the PHA tenant’s association. Greene was fired in September after PHA board members discovered that three sexual harassment cases against him had been secretly settled for $648,000 and another was pending.
The lawsuit says that between 2008 and 2010, the PHA required landlords participating in the Section 8 program attend a training course and pay a fee of $200 to a non-profit group called the Pennsylvania Institute of Affordable Housing Professionals. The suit claims that “defendants fraudulently used the training courses as a pretext to generate funds for the personal enrichment of the defendants, to pay for activities for PHA employees, to lobby for federal funds, and to promote political initiatives.”
It’s estimated that 4,000 landlords in the Pennsylvania and New Jersey areas were forced to pay the fee. One of the plaintiffs, James Lipschutz, said he paid the $200 after the PHA told him that he would be kicked out of the Section 8 program if he not pay the fee. A spokesperson for HUD, Donna White, said that the PHA did not have the authority to charge a fee.