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HUD Official Begins Role At Helm Of Philadelphia Housing Authority

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - The chief operating officer of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development has attended her first Philadelphia Housing Authority meeting since the recent federal takeover of the PHA.

Estelle Richman, who still calls Philadelphia home although her work is based in Washington, is now the sole member of the PHA's board.  Previously, a five-member PHA board voted on items. Now, she's the "Board of Commissioner."

"This resolution is approved, moved, passed, voted yes. OK, I'll get used to this," she said during one proceeding today.

Richman previously put in stints as Philadelphia's health commissioner (under then-mayor Ed Rendell), city managing director (under John Street), and secretary of public welfare (during Rendell's time as governor of Pennsylvania).

After the meeting, we asked about Washington, DC's image of the PHA under the controversial reign of PHA's former executive director, Carl Greene.

"It was two-edged," says Richman.  "This was a strong housing authority.  It did a lot of wonderful things.  On the other hand, we found out how money was being used that we're continuing to investigate."

After Greene was fired (see previous story), several federal agencies began looking into how the PHA spent its money (see related story). HUD investigators are in the midst of a forensic audit (another related story).

Reported by Steve Tawa, KYW Newsradio 1060.

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