Washington City Paper: The Drama at DCHA

What is the latest at DC Housing Authority? “I plead the Fifth.”

March 30, 2021

If you are not following the happenings over at D.C. Housing Authority—the independent agency responsible for the city’s public housing and one of D.C.’s biggest landlords—you should be. 

The latest development is that a senior vice president within the agency pleaded the Fifth during a lawsuit over a former employee’s termination. Chelsea Andrews claims DCHA Executive Director Tyrone Garrett fired her after she questioned the procurement and authenticity of KN95 masks.

DCHA Senior VP for Property Management Operations Larry Williams pleaded the Fifth in his deposition due to an unrelated proceeding. He is named in a federal grand jury subpoena issued to a housing authority in a small town in northern Illinois that he ran from 2009 to 2017.

Read more of that story here

Andrews first filed the lawsuit against the DC Housing Authority on July 29, 2020. A lot has happened since. 

A timeline 

  • Late August: A DCHA board of commissioners member who was asking a lot of questions about how the agency was running things, including the circumstances that led to Andrews filing a lawsuit, was removed. 
  • Early September: The DCHA board voted down resolutions championed by Garrett and delayed a budget vote. Loose Lips’ read? Shaky confidence in the executive director.
  • Mid-March: An independent audit of three DCHA contracts found the agency wasted about $1.3 million.

And then there was another audit that found DCHA kept families in units with lead past federal deadlines. Garrett says he was out of good options. 

Garrett, in his own deposition for Andrews’ lawsuit, claimed that she and other employees were planning a coup. Andrews calls that notion “ridiculous.” A judge threw out three of the five claims in Andrews’ lawsuit, but the case is still ongoing. 

DCHA falls under the D.C. Council’s Committee on Housing and Executive Administration, chaired by At-Large Councilmember Anita Bonds. Garrett’s contract expires this year, and it’s up to the DCHA board of commissioners, chaired by Neil Albert, whether to renew it.

— Amanda Michelle Gomez (tips? agomez@washingtoncitypaper.com)

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