DC lawmakers call for broader investigation into ‘potentially criminal’ behavior at Housing Authority

Five D.C. lawmakers want the inspector general to look into reports of unethical — and potentially criminal — behavior at the city’s Housing Authority.

This comes after the Board of Commissioners chair stepped down last week amid an investigation into his approval of a multimillion-dollar contract to a woman he lives with.

The letter addressed to the D.C. Inspector General begins by revealing the IG is already investigating allegations within D.C.’s Housing Authority, including a conspiracy to steal housing voucher funds meant to help low-income residents pay rent. Separately, the inspector general’s office is also investigating a conflict of interest involving former Board of Commissioners Chair Neil Albert.

However, at-large Councilmember Elissa Silverman asked for the investigating body to expand the scope of its investigation.

“There is a troubling pattern of unethical and, potentially criminal, behavior at DCHA, including from agency leadership. Multiple DCHA employees reached out to members of the Council’s Committee on Housing and Executive Administration to share concerns about actions taken at the agency and whether their disclosures would provide them with whistleblower protection,” Silverman wrote.

This is the second D.C. agency under investigation by the Office of the Inspector General, as it is also looking into criminal allegations at D.C.’s Department of Forensic Sciences.

Concerns the whistleblowers expressed to lawmakers around how the Housing Authority entered into contracts and whether its leadership abused its power led Silverman and at-large council members Anita Bonds, Robert White, Brooke Pinto and Kenyan McDuffie to ask for a broader investigation into the agency as a whole.

“We believe these incidents are not isolated and reflect a pattern of misconduct at DCHA,” the letter said.

Silverman said they have also learned that DCHA’s general counsel asked an outside law firm to investigate if another commission member was misusing resources for personal gain, “while harassing and threatening the livelihood of employees who do not acquiesce to the pressure.”

She said that the agency’s director has not informed members of the Housing Committee, chaired by Bonds, about the investigation into this allegation or the status of that investigation.

“It is our sincere expectation that the new DCHA Director and Board Chair will cooperate fully so that they can rebuild DCHA into the agency that District residents need and deserve.”

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified Neil Albert as the commissioner member who is alleged to have misused resources for personal gain when those specific allegations are against another commissioner.

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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