Greene said that after an Aug. 13, 2010, newspaper story reported that he was being sued for nonpayment of his mortgage, he didn't return to work because he was "a bit overwhelmed by circumstances."
On Aug. 22, knowing that he was suffering a "personal collapse," Greene checked into The Retreat at Sheppard Pratt, a psychiatric hospital near Baltimore, where he found "a lot of kindred spirits" who were, as he was, "people overwhelmed by circumstances."
He spent 25 days in therapy there, learning "the value of living versus the alternative of dying." He remained in the area as an outpatient for three months.
By that time, he'd been fired for allegedly violating an employment contract that still had two years to run. Greene is seeking almost a million dollars in compensation, plus damages.
A PHA investigative report authored by then-chairman John Street in August 2010 states that Greene should be terminated for "intentional willful and deceptive actions," including his settlement of sexual-harassment claims without telling the PHA board and "the unapproved abandonment of his duties."
Greene also testified Tuesday about his relationship with Melissa Shingles, one of four female PHA employees who claimed that he had sexually harassed them.
Shingles alleged that Greene gave her a hug and a kiss on the cheek in 2003 outside the Fox and Hound Bar & Grill, in Center City.
Greene said, "I don't remember any kiss," and told U.S. District Judge Ronald L. Buckwalter, "I can't hug like a bear hug because I only have one functional hand."
Greene said: "It's not a hug in a normal sense because my [left] arm is dangling." He added that he's careful because "I don't want to hit you in the crotch or something."
As for asking Shingles, during a San Diego business trip, if a black-and-blue mark on her leg had been caused by her boyfriend biting her, Greene said, "I would never make such a comment. . . . It absolutely didn't happen."
Greene, 56, said he "developed a fire in my belly" to reform public housing after growing up in Washington, D.C., projects. He was the seventh of eight children, raised by his single mother. He said they had no refrigerator for a time, had "not enough heat or too much heat" and were surrounded by drug violence.
His childhood fueled his resolve to get "rid of the dark spaces" in public housing and replace them with "the quality housing that you see today all over Philadelphia."
Greene was scheduled to continue his testimony Wednesday but the trial was suspended for two days without explanation.
On Twitter: @DanGeringer