For Sims, it was important to talk to Street one-on-one.
On Wednesday, Feb. 16, Sims took the train from Washington to meet the former mayor. Street picked Darling's Diner at the Piazza at Schmidts in Northern Liberties, known for some of the best cheesecake in Philadelphia.
He insisted that Sims come alone.
There, over lunch, the two men talked about their careers and families.
Sims, 62, told Street about his years as a city councilman in King County, which includes Seattle, followed by more than a decade as its top executive.
Street, 67, shared with the HUD official his own similar career, starting in City Council and ending up in the Mayor's Office.
Then Sims came to the hard part. Saying that he had "a favor to ask," Sims said HUD wanted the PHA board to resign.
The suggestion came down on Street like a hammer.
"I saw his face. I said, 'Oh, my God, I just hurt him deeply,' " Sims recalled in an interview Friday.
Sims, son of a minister, shifted gears and quoted the Bible.
He recounted how Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt. "All of us won't get across the desert," Sims told Street, also a deeply religious man.
Street and the other board members may not be with PHA when it reaches better times, but that's not what is important, Sims told him. They could help lead the way.
If the board resigned, he said, it would make it easier for HUD to aid PHA and the agency's residents.
At first, Street wanted to protect the other board members, and he offered to resign if they were spared. He was particularly worried about Nellie Reynolds, an 81-year-old tenant leader who had been a commissioner for decades.
But Sims held firm. Everyone had to go.
The HUD official gave Street a week or so to give him his answer.
HUD held all the cards.
Though PHA is a state-chartered agency, it gets nearly all of its money - $371 million this year - from the federal government. If the unpaid board members did not volunteer to resign, HUD could force the issue. It also could take away PHA's flexibility to spend money under the so-called Moving to Work program.
Over the next days, other HUD officials reached out to Street, including Sandra Henriquez, HUD's assistant secretary of public and Indian housing. She told him what would happen to Philadelphia if the housing authority lost its Moving to Work status.
Also calling the former mayor was Estelle Ric+hman, his managing director from 2001 to 2003 and now HUD's chief operating officer.
In addition to Reynolds, the other commissioners were City Councilwoman Jannie L. Blackwell; Debra L. Brady, wife of U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, the city's Democratic Party leader; and Patrick Eiding, president of the Philadelphia council of the AFL-CIO.
Days passed. Street asked questions: How would the department announce the news? What would it say about the commissioners?
On the morning of Feb. 25, Street talked to Sims but didn't give him a definitive answer.
And that's when the clock ran out.
Later that day, Sims took the extraordinary move of going public.
In a six-paragraph statement, he acknowledged that the board cared about the residents of public housing and had done everything HUD had asked of it since the agency fell into turmoil after the firing of Executive Director Carl R. Greene.
But that was not enough.
"We must acknowledge that what is required at this moment in time is more than simply caring," Sims stated.
Of his strategy, Sims said later, "I had made the decision that we should first ask, and then announce."
It was a shocking affront for some of the board members.
In a conference call that night, they agreed to stand together and not resign.
If PHA was digging in, so was HUD.
On Tuesday, in the hearing room of the House Financial Services Committee, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan faced more than a dozen representatives. When asked about PHA by Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick, a Bucks County Republican whose district includes parts of Philadelphia, Donovan made it clear the board was going.
From that point on, Sims said, HUD's efforts gained momentum.
Days earlier, Sims had briefed the Philadelphia congressional delegation - including Brady - about HUD's plan to remove the board.
That Tuesday, Bob Brady called Sims, went over details of the HUD plan, and asked whether Sims would talk to his wife.
"Twenty seconds later, she called," Sims said. "We began to talk more about specifics."
Debra Brady's attendance as a commissioner had become an issue. Since joining the board, she had missed almost half the meetings.
Sims said that, like Street, Debra Brady was worried about Reynolds. "I don't want Nellie to be hurt," she told him.
Sims made assurances.
Debra Brady said she wrote her resignation letter that day and would have resigned Friday regardless of what the others decided to do.
Blackwell also came to the same conclusion. In a move that surprised the PHA board, she called a City Hall news conference at noon Wednesday and announced her plan to give up her board seat of nine years.
That left three.
Street and Eiding agreed to meet with Sims on Thursday night. "I went to Washington adamant that I would not resign," Eiding said.
Eiding had been preoccupied with labor issues all week, including the Wisconsin showdown of municipal workers who are battling the potential loss of their collective-bargaining rights.
They met with Sims at the Capitol City Brewing Co. near Union Station. It was Eiding's first chance to hear directly from the HUD official.
After complaining to Sims that the restaurant served "fake Philadelphia pretzels," Eiding listened to what Sims had to say.
Richman would become HUD's point person at PHA.
Reynolds would be given a new job as a tenant liaison for the board and PHA executive director.
HUD would honor all labor agreements and collective bargaining.
It was enough for Eiding and Street. They shook hands with Sims.
Sims paid the bill.
The next day, at a special board meeting, the four remaining commissioners signed a three-page agreement with HUD. The mayor and the city controller signed, too. So did Sims.
PHA was now under HUD's control.
Contact staff writer Jennifer Lin at 215-854-5659 or firstname.lastname@example.org.