Embattled PHA director speaks out

CENTER CITY - August 20, 2010

PHA is the biggest landlord in the state of Pennsylvania and Carl Greene, who runs it, came out of his self-imposed hiding to talk to reporters.

He denied accusations that had recently been made concerning sexual harassment. As for his personal financial problems that almost cost him his home, he said he went home and locked himself inside that house because he says he was humiliated.

"My failures were all personal and they were, you know, I'm very apologetic," he said.

So how does Greene, who makes $300,000 a year, allow his upscale $600,000 townhouse to go nearly into foreclosure?

Apparently the IRS froze his bank accounts because of unpaid taxes.

"Although they were writing and calling, I just hadn't addressed it and so it's a very serious failing on my part," Greene explained.

Without going into detail, Greene seems to blame his financial meltdown on overwork and stress.

Supporters of Greene, who call him a public housing visionary, say such a stumble is out of character.

But the second set of allegations he faces, sexual harassment, are not surprising to some.

Greene came to Philadelphia 12 years ago facing a harassment suit at his previous job in Detroit.

There was a 2004 case here and most recently a PHA worker says at a Center City eatery Greene made unwanted sexual advances.

Her attorney called Greene's actions serial, predatory sexual misconduct.

"I just think that that lawyer is obviously doing his litigation in the press and he's been litigating in the press all week and I certainly disagree with all of those assertions," Greene said.

Greene concedes there have been prior claims, but seems to deny that there have been any out of court payments for sexual harassment in Philadelphia.

"No settlements have been paid out in my name and on my behalf. The settlements that have been reached, you know, I'm going to have to refer you back to the sort of housing authority folks for the details, you know, I don't want to quote numbers and names and have it incorrect," Greene said.

So should Greene keep his job? That will be up to the PHA board and is scheduled to meet next week about the situation. Its chairman, former mayor John Street, says he's not pleased with Greene's behavior in the last few days.

In the meantime, Action News has learned that several federal agencies are planning to investigate the operations of the housing authority in the wake of all that has happened.

Reaction has come from both the state and agency level.

Governor Ed Rendell told Action News that because he has no authority over the PHA, he can only respond on a personal level.

"What Carl Greene has done to improve the Philadelphia Housing Authority and the developments has been nothing short of spectacular so to see him facing all these personal challenges, and apparently he's checking himself into some institution to get rehab help, it's very, very sad," Rendell said.

Former mayor John Street, now Housing Authority Board Chairman, told Action News Friday evening, he's been trying to get answers from Greene for days, with no luck. Now, he's giving Greene one more chance to explain himself or else.

"Given the information that we find and the feeling of the members of the board, we might, could, do something different," Street said.

That means, perhaps, a different person could be running the PHA in the future.

Street hopes that information will come at that board meeting next week

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