Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

HUD report is critical of Pasco County Housing Authority

The long-awaited report by federal officials on the Pasco County Housing Authority was released Thursday, pointing to problems with financial oversight, possible overtime excesses and a high public housing vacancy rate.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development conducted a comprehensive review of the agency in October. Since that time, many of the issues highlighted in the report have surfaced. The housing authority has already corrected 90 percent of the problems, said David Lambert, chairman of the housing authority's board of directors.

"It's nothing that we haven't really taken care of," he said. "Many of the things are done."

Problems surfaced at the agency last fall after media coverage of a whistle-blower lawsuit by a former employee. Besides allegations of mismanagement, the suit accused former executive director Karen Turner of creating a hostile work environment by having sex during work hours with another employee, who has since left the authority.

Though a judge recently ruled in favor of the housing authority, the attention prompted a major overhaul of the agency. Turner was forced to resign in September, and Gov. Rick Scott later replaced all of the authority's board members.

Major findings in the report include one case of excessive overtime, a high rate of unused units and lax controls over finances.

"This assessment revealed serious deficiencies that must be corrected," the report reads. The housing authority is officially designated as "troubled" because its 2010 audit is overdue. Lambert said he expects the audit will be finished by April.

The overtime case is being investigated separately by HUD's inspector general. The report says that between January 2006 and September 2011, one maintenance worker "routinely worked a significant number of overtime hours," logging 31 pay periods with more than 40 hours of overtime. In many cases the work was not supported by work orders.

The report does not name the employee, though an earlier Times analysis revealed a similar pattern for maintenance staffer Bill Dillon. Payroll records obtained by the Times from late 2007 through early 2008 showed Dillon averaged 72-hour weeks during that period. The whistle-blower suit claims Dillon was Turner's "paramour," though Dillon denies the charge.

Lambert said he couldn't discuss the case because of the inspector general inquiry. All overtime has ended, except for employees rehabbing units so new tenants can move in.

The HUD report criticized the housing authority for issuing credit cards to all maintenance staffers. Those cards were used at home improvement stores, where purchases "appear excessive." Lambert said the housing authority has since restricted cards to supervisors. All purchases must be approved in advance, and interim executive director Linda Wright checks receipts afterward.

The agency also has a high vacancy rate, which reduces income to the housing authority. The report notes that "is not the result of lack of demand," with nearly 1,000 families on a waiting list. Lambert said when he arrived, the agency had 78 vacant units, and that figure is down to 52. "We're hoping in the next three to four months that we don't have more than 10," he said.

HUD officials said hiring a permanent executive director "is key to the recovery of the" housing authority. Board members have narrowed a list of 20 applicants to five, though the agency received follow-up calls from only two applicants. Lambert said the relatively low salary of $82,000 likely turned those people away. The board will schedule interviews with the remaining applicants next month.

"I want somebody that's highly ethical, and is going to be a good steward of public dollars," he said. "For me, they need to be a change agent, too."

Lee Logan can be reached at or (727) 869-6236.

HUD report is critical of Pasco County Housing Authority 02/23/12 [Last modified: Thursday, February 23, 2012 8:00pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Here kitty, kitty ...


    In a toned down version of the annual rookie dress-up day based on MLB's new anti-hazing policy, Rays rookie players and staff - plus second-year LHP Blake Snell - donned DJ Kitty onesies for the trip to New York.

    Rays rookie players and staff - joined here by Alex Colome - sporting their DJ Kitty onesies before the flight to New York.
  2. Pasco residents affected by Irma invited to town hall meeting

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Representatives from Pasco County Emergency Management and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will play host to a town hall-style meeting from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday in the first-floor boardroom of the West Pasco Government Center, 8731 Citizens Drive, New Port Richey

    Sandra Cunningham assesses the damage a water oak did to her Church Avenue home when it crashed into her bedroom roof during Hurricane Irma.
  3. Lightning's Nikita Kucherov has a lot to say — about moving on to a much better season

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Nikita Kucherov sits back in his stall and smiles.

    Laughs a little, too.

    Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) prepares for a faceoff during the first period of Friday's  (9/22/17) preseason game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Nashville Predators at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  4. Clearwater man shot, seriously injured


    CLEARWATER — A shooting Sunday morning in unincorporated Clearwater left one man seriously injured, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

  5. Mother of double amputee Ireland Nugent to lose her own lower right leg

    Human Interest

    Ever since Ireland Nugent lost both her lower legs in a lawn-mowing accident five years ago, the Clearwater girl has inspired her mother, Nicole Del Corpo-Nugent, with the courage she has shown in overcoming the tragedy.

    Nicole Del Corpo-Nugent, left, looked on as her daughter Ireland threw out the first pitch when the Tampa Bay Rays played the Houston Astros at Tropicana Field on June 22, 2014. Jerry Nugent held his daughter for the pitch. Now Nicole Del Corpo-Nugent is facing surgery to amputate her own lower right leg due to a rare infection. WILL VRAGOVIC  |  Times (2014)