Controversial tenant leader may join PHA board

Posted: January 25, 2014

PHILADELPHIA Asia Coney, an influential and controversial organizer of public housing residents, could end up temporarily joining the board of commissioners of the Philadelphia Housing Authority.

Coney would fill a spot previously held by PHA tenant Shelley Jackson, who was required to step down after getting a job at the authority.

PHA attempted to hold an election to fill Jackson's seat as a resident representative, but Coney was the only tenant leader who garnered enough signatures of support to run for the position.

Mark McDonald, a spokesman for Mayor Nutter, said the mayor, City Council President Darrell L. Clarke, and PHA president Kelvin Jeremiah decided that it would be better to temporarily nominate Coney to the board than leave the post empty until April 29. That's when PHA will again attempt to hold elections for two seats reserved for residents on the nine-member board.

City Council is expected to vote on Coney's selection Jan. 30.

At a hearing Thursday, Coney told Council's Committee of the Whole that if nominated, she will commit "to be a vehicle for the voice of all residents."

Coney was a strong ally of former PHA Executive Director Carl R. Greene, who was ousted in 2010 amid allegations of sexual harassment.

Coney used to hold a $108,000-a-year job running a nonprofit affiliated with PHA called Tenant Support Services Inc. PHA cut the group's funding and pressured Coney to resign. Independent auditors said that while the nonprofit performed "reasonably well," there was a lack of oversight and management controls.

215-854-5659 @j_linq

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