Stories about life in Liddonfield housing project and its impact on the Northeast Philadelphia neighborhood of Upper Holmesburg. These true stories reveal how government policy affected the lives of real people, from the project residents to area homeowners during the 5 decades of Liddonfield’s existence. Stories and articles are written by a former resident of the project.


Rosemary Reeves, Blogger, standing on Philadelphia Skyline

Feb 28, 2011

Why is HUD Messing with John Street and the PHA Board?

by Rosemary Reeves

In a startling move, HUD now wants to oust the entire Board of Directors of the Philadelphia Housing Authority, according to's article entitled, HUD calls on Street, rest of PHA board to resign. In the article, HUD spokeman Jerry Brown is quoted as saying, "...we truly believe that, moving forward, we actually need to start with a clean slate."  HUD wants to step in and take over the Philadelphia Housing Authority Board temporarily during an in-depth investigation into the Carl Greene scandal, to see if the Board had any culpability.  Even the FBI and the Justice Department will be conducting probes of the Philadelphia Housing Authority.

I am a former public housing resident.  I am also a firm believer that a person is innocent until proven guilty.  It is a documented fact that Carl Greene settled out of court with several women who accused him of sexual harassment.  John Street was forthright in bringing it to the media, the public was informed and Carl Greene was fired.  In my opinion, since the evidence was there and "the Tiger Woods of Public Housing," as Street described Greene, got what he deserved - a divorce from the PHA.

But why is HUD messing with John Street?  I must confess I have a love-hate relationship with John Street, figuratively speaking.  All the years he served as City Councilman I was drawn to his spunk, his savvy political maneuvering, and his in-your-face confidence.  (Some might call it arrogance).  Years ago, when African American politicians were almost non-existent, he was a black man who worked within a political system designed to favor white people.  He didn't work against the system.  It was too powerful for one man to overcome. Instead, he used the system to forge his success and thus become the inspiration for other blacks (and some poor whites) to pursue politics.  In this, he is and forever will be, one of the great pioneers of Philadelphia's history.  No alleged corruption scandal can ever erase that.

On the other hand, in the midst of political scandals, John Street's name tends to pop up like microwaved popcorn.  He has faced corruption allegations and innuendo more than once before.  If not directed at himself, then toward one or more of his political allies or personal friends.  It is important to note that he has never been charged or convicted of any type of corruption.  Which leads me to occasionally wonder, is he a good man among wolves, or is he simply made of Teflon?

In any case, it's rather astounding that HUD could not find a single PHA Board member worth retaining, in their eyes.  Come on, guys.  Even God scoured the earth for a good man and managed to find Noah. And how can you request someone to resign who hasn't been convicted of anything?  What happened to innocent until proven guilty?

But if some PHA Board of Director jobs do open up, I'm available.  Like I mentioned, I'm a former public housing resident.  Maybe someone who's lived in public housing but has no political experience whatsoever would be the least corruptible person you'll find, if you scour the earth.  If HUD wants to "clean the slate" let it appoint one ordinary citizen naive enough to make decisions based on what's best for the public housing residents PHA serves, rather than the pursuit of political power.

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