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

Aug 22, 2011

PHA's Mike Kelly's Life Set to Music

by Rosemary Reeves

If Mike Kelly of the Philadelphia Housing Authority had his life set to music, what songs would play?

Holding Out for a Hero by Bonnie Tyler

Back in 2010, the story broke about the sexual harrassment charges by several women against Executive Director of the Philadelphia Housing Authority, Carl Greene.  Greene settled out of court using PHA funds  meant for affordable housing.  Further investigation revealed many more misappropriations of federal money by the PHA.  According to news reports, Greene threw lavish parties, hired belly dancers at PHA events and liked to boogie.  Eventually, his alleged sexual harrassment and party fever caught up with Greene, and it had a domino effect on everyone who had anything to do with public housing.  Opponents of affordable housing developments are having a field day.  The scandal is a disaster for public housing residents in Philadelphia.  When the agency hurts, they hurt.

As a public housing blogger and former Liddonfield Housing Project resident, I longed for a hero to come and save us.  We needed a trusty knight to ride up on his steed and slay all our dragons.  I imagined sword fights, arrows flying and valiant peasants scaling castle walls.  We'd have certain victory in the end and chant All hail the trusty knight who ousted Carl Greene (a.k.a. Sir Dance-A-Lot).  I was humming Holding Out for a Hero by Bonnie Tyler the whole time, hoping someone will make haste and slay all our dragons.

Kung Fu Fighting by Carl Douglas

HUD quickly summoned Mike Kelly from New York to take over as interim replacement for Greene. Now, it was time for Mr. Kelly to have a showdown with the Philadelphia Housing Authority Board.  Everybody was (figuratively) Kung Fu Fighting as Board members passed the buck and refused to step down. 

Momma Said Knock You Out by L.L. COOL J

"Listen to the way I slay" sings LL Cool J in his song, Momma Said Knock You Out.  Our dragon slayer, Mike Kelly, proceeded to fire the whole PHA Board!  At first, I thought that was a tad harsh.  Why should the entire Board be ousted because of what Carl Greene did?  Further research into news reports revealed that the Board allowed Carl Greene to spend PHA money with little or no oversight.  So, Mike told them to hit the road.

Mike appointed Estelle Richman to hold down the fort as the sole member of the PHA Board.  That is a tall order for just one person.  Songs like I Am Woman by Helen Reddy were made for women like her.

According to a Philadelphia Inquirer article by staff writers Jennifer Lin and Mark Fazlollah, the PHA spent $38.5 million in 3 years on private lawyers instead of using their own lawyers at the agency. For that amount of money they could have hired a thousand Perry Masons.

Early this month, it was announced that Mike Kelly will remain Executive Director at the Philadelphia Housing Authority on a permanent basis.  See The Wall Street Journal article entitled, PHA Names Permanent Chief After Housing Authority Scandal.

Mike Kelly must have fallen in love with Philadelphia and its public housing residents.  By remaining permanently, he's expressing his commitment.  He's saying he's never gonna give us up, never gonna let us down, never gonna run around and desert us.  He's never gonna say goodbye, or tell a lie and hurt us.  Bless your heart, Mike "Dragon Slayer" Kelly. 


Message for Mike Kelly and His Housing Authority Home Wrecker


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