Fri, Feb 11, 2022
Testimony to DC Housing Authority Board of Commissioners
Public witnesses only have 3 minutes. As such, I was not able to deliver my entire testimony. Please capture this written testimony as part of the record and supply responses consistent with the rules and procedures of the DCHA Board of Commissioners. Also, questions in the chat for DCHA Board of Commissioners' meetings are part of the public record. Since DCHA officials, including Board members, respond to at least some questions in the chat, questions posed in the chat represent a legal and proper part of the record. I strongly encourage HUD officials to read the entirety of this email.
- Christopher Williams
"DCHA executive leaders had assured the Board on the record that the Board would have an opportunity to review the Greenleaf master development agreement. Director Donald has expressed a desire to withhold the full details of the Greenleaf MDA from the Board. I'm asking the Board to a) produce a legal memo spelling out the exchange between executive officials in the Board and to work with DCHA's legal counsel b) to bring this Greenleaf master development agreement back to the Board prior to a request to vote to approve the MDA and c) provide meaningful resident engagement for the master development agreement just as the Board just committed to provide $500,000 for resident engagement in a separate project. I've sent the Board these questions previously. Here I repeat them. Did DCHA violate or is suspected to have violated any procurement rules in its selection of Greenleaf District Partners as final co-developers? Why hasn't the Board still not received results of the Greenleaf request for proposals final rubric? The Board does not have any data substantiating why District Partners was the best proposal. Mr. Garrett had a long time relationship with Pennrose dating back to his time at the Long Branch Housing Authority in New Jersey. Pennrose is a part of the final co-development team that constitutes Greenleaf District Partners. What disclosures involving a conflict of interest, if any, did Mr. Garrett make to staff and the Board about his longtime relationship with Pennrose? 8 out of the 11 panelists who scored the final applications were DCHA staff. Did Mr. Garrett's known relationship with Pennrose influence DCHA staff's scoring of the final application and thus prevent a fair assessment. The Greenleaf redevelopment request for proposals and qualifications strongly emphasized a Build First model. However, the final selection did not primarily seek a Build First model to minimize displacement unlike other applications. We have yet to identify a Build First site for Greenleaf, yet it was an area of priority in both stages of the application. Why is it that we do not have a Build First site for Greenleaf? How will the Housing Authority get out of offering the property to residents as a part of the federal right of first refusal because it cannot argue that the property is obsolete. The Greenleaf property as you know was built at the same time all buildings. The Housing Authority is preserving Greenleaf Senior which makes the statement that the entire development is obsolete false because they were all built around the same time and they are all more or less in the same condition."
Full Testimony (excluding comments and questions repeated above).
On what authority does Director Donald claim that she can withhold the full and complete details of the Greenleaf Master Development Agreement?
DCHA officials recently disclosed that it will begin closely evaluating Section 3 requirements for a specific property in its portfolio. Across public and voucher populations, is DCHA tracking and monitoring compliance with Section 3 requirements? How? When will DCHA publicly disclose results from Section 3 monitoring?
What is DCHA's strategy for furthering the aims and goals of Section 3 as a Moving to Work agency?
When will DCHA disclose the final applications as part of the request for proposals for the Greenleaf redevelopment?
When will DCHA disclose the final evaluation forms (rubric scoring and comments) of the 11 panelists for the Greenleaf redevelopment?
When will DCHA disclose the minutes from all panel deliberations during the request for qualifications (RFQ) and request for applications (RFP) processes? Who served as chair(s) of those meetings?
Why hasn't DCHA disclose the final evaluation forms from all panelists for the Greenleaf redevelopment?
On what legal basis did DCHA deny the ANC6D's request for the final applications, operating agreement, or other such requested public documents related to the Greenleaf redevelopment?
Were there any allegations of improper and/or illegal conduct of representatives from development interests involved in the Greenleaf request for qualifications or proposals? Was there any follow up or investigations? Prompted by allegations, did DCHA forward any requests for investigation to any legal entity outside of DCHA?
Did any Greenleaf resident ask a DCHA official that a party affiliated with a development interest with Greenleaf cease improper conduct? Did these allegations involve an offer(s) of any gift or service to a resident that has a monetary value equal to or greater than $1? Did these exchange involve other promises?
Did any DCHA staff communicated to their supervisor or other DCHA staff that there was misconduct in developer behavior that would run afoul of federal procurement rules related to Greenleaf redevelopment or other DCHA developments within the last 5 years?
Were there individuals (other than the 11 panelists evaluating the Greenleaf applications) involved in panel deliberations or otherwise exerted influence in the process for the Greenleaf redevelopment? Did these individuals (not part of the 11 panelists) speak during the panel deliberations, including formal and informal meetings? If so, what did these individuals say?
Was there any occasion in which Greenleaf panelists sought the advice and counsel of Mr. Garret with specific purpose and intent to inform and influence panel deliberations?
Were there criteria considered in the application process for either the request for qualifications or proposals that was not included in the official evaluation rubric?
Greenleaf is one-third three bedrooms or more. Has DCHA evaluated whether its intent or plan for Greenleaf will make it non-compliant with the federal family housing or size requirement for Moving to Work programs?
HUD has placed DCHA under a corrective plan for non-compliance with the MTW "substantially the same requirement" for years. Has DCHA evaluated whether its intent or plan for Greenleaf will make it indefinitely non-compliant with the "substantially the same" requirement for Moving to Work programs?
Greenleaf leadership is opposed to the Greenleaf redevelopment plans - of the limited details that have been publicly disclosed. What is DCHA's response to residents' desire for partial or full self-development?
After entering into a negotiating period, DCHA announced that Greenleaf Senior would be preserved. Why? No plan that was pitched by the final slate of developers during the RFP sought to preserve a single building in Greenleaf.
The latest plan shown to residents and the public deviate substantially from the RFP (e.g. preservation of Greenleaf Senior, use of RAD, selling of public land, no Build First site). Why? On what legal basis does DCHA argue that it is lawfully proceeding with redevelopment and negotiation?
When will DCHA provide legal disclosures to residents about the substantial deviations of the Greenleaf plan as in the RFQ and RFP? When will DCHA seek to uphold the due process rights of residents by letting them know that they can challenge the development plans on this basis?
Ms. Carter, a representative from District Partners, indicated on record that she will look into historic designation for Greenleaf Senior. Why isn't historical preservation sought for other Greenleaf properties since they share the same architectural firm and historical significance?
What is DCHA's response to the whistleblower allegations in a 2021 issue of Southwest Voice of a current or former DCHA employee that the Greenleaf redevelopment violated federal procurement rules?
Did DCHA have intent to exclude a resident representative from the panel evaluating the Greenleaf RFP applications until a resident objected to the absence of a resident representative?
Did Mr. Garrett direct efforts to resist providing for and retaining a resident representative on the Greenleaf RFP panel?
Was the panel formed to evaluate the Greenleaf RFP applications biased and prevent from a fair assessment due to selection bias? Was Mr. Garrett involved in an effort to foreclose a fair assessment due to the make-up of the Greenleaf RFP panel?
At least 50% of Greenleaf was emptied out in 2021 within a matter of months. Did DCHA initiate a relocation plan for Greenleaf redevelopment without prior approval from HUD?
Did DCHA initiate unlawful eviction notices to residents in Greenleaf Senior? How many individuals did DCHA file eviction paperwork against who resided or continue to reside on Greenleaf?
Did any evictions initiated by Greenleaf result in homelessness of any households. Fact: I am aware of such instances.
Did DCHA seek to provide legal support resources for Greenleaf households who were under threat of eviction?
Of the households who no longer live in Greenleaf from this time last year, what were the circumstances associated with their re-location, eviction, or displacement?
Has DCHA assessed the mental and physical health impact of Greenleaf residents who no longer reside at Greenleaf Senior and were residents at this point last year? Are these residents aware that they no longer qualify to return to Greenleaf if it is redeveloped and other legal disclosures?
What were DCHA's environmental health mitigation plans to prevent air contaminants at Greenleaf Senior PRIOR to starting extensive renovation work?
After receiving extensive complaints about poor air quality at Greenleaf Senior during an extensive renovation process, what corrective plan did DCHA implement?
What health assessments were conducted to understand health vulnerabilities of Greenleaf, including among populations with disabilities and sufferers from respiratory diseases and conditions?
A contractor at the Greenleaf Midrise building failed to provide for proper ventilation in using commercial products. Residents complained for several weeks about foul and contaminated air before action was taken. What is the oversight of DCHA contractors and why did it take so long for DCHA to compel the contractor to follow basic protocols? DCHA directed the contractor to read the instructions.
What exemptions to the federal right of refusal does DCHA intent to claim?
Is it lawful for DCHA to refuse to occupy vacated units in Greenleaf? Can this tactic constitute a violation of HUD regulations?
Has HUD warned DCHA before about emptying units within a property slated for redevelopment PRIOR to a formal redevelopment request to HUD?
Southwest offers countless amenities that provide protective health and economic factors against the effects poverty. Does DCHA recognize this?
Why is DCHA only committed to preserving the number of current DCHA units in Greenleaf when the value of the land and the proximity to resources are ideal for expanding affordable housing production and providing for protection against the effects of poverty?
Why was the Board only recently aware that partial sale of public land at Greenleaf was in play with the Greenleaf redevelopment?
There exists affordable housing land covenants on the Greenleaf land. This is not the declaration of trust. Does DCHA intent to remove this affordable housing land covenant? On what legal basis, does DCHA intent to argue that this affordable housing land covenant should be removed?
DCHA has repeatedly only agreed to restore the current number of units. Why isn't DCHA exploring innovative methods in housing finance to increase affordable housing production for the Greenleaf redevelopment?
Did DCHA provide HUD with accurate data for HUD to make an accurate assessment that DCHA is in compliance with the federal Moving to Work requirement on family housing or family size?
Did HUD make a lawful decision that DCHA is in compliance with the family housing or size requirement with Moving to Work public agencies?
Over 200 units, largely stemming from units with multiple bedrooms, from Arthur Cappers that was demolished twenty years ago. Is it reasonable to expect that DCHA will remain in compliance with the family housing or size requirement for Moving to Work public housing agencies? How many units are DCHA in deficit with across all properties due to units that have not been restored with redevelopment?
Questions emailed to DCHA executive leadership and the Board on January 19, 2021. I did not receive a response.
Did DCHA violate or is suspected to have violated any procurement rules in its selection of Greenleaf District Partners (Pennrose, EYA, and Bozzuto Development) as final co-developers?
• If so, what procurement rules did it violate?
• Are the procurement rules available on a public site or otherwise available to the public?
• Can you send me a copy of the procurement rules that govern Greenleaf redevelopment?
Did any employee inform or attempt to inform the development team that procurement rules were being violated or that they suspected procurement rules were being violated?
• What actions did DCHA leadership or the development team working on Greenleaf redevelopment do in response to an employee informing the development team or DCHA leadership that procurement rules were being violated?
• Were any member of the procurement team dismissed unfairly for reasons related to Greenleafredevelopment?
• Were any member of the procurement team moved to another department unfairly for reasons related to Greenleaf redevelopment?
Do you believe that the request for qualifications was a competitive process that fairly assessed the qualifications of each bid?
• Do you believe that there was a preferred application? State the preferred application.
• Do you believe that an application was established as preferred prior to a formal evaluation of applications? Why do you feel this?
• Was there a formal and fair evaluation of the qualifications of each application?
• Do you feel that an independent auditor would find that DCHA selected the most qualified applicants to submit a request for proposals?
• Can you send me a copy of each request for qualification?
Do you believe that the request for proposals was a competitive process that fairly assessed the qualification of each bid?
• Do you believe that there was a preferred application? State the preferred application and why.
• Do you believe that an application was established as preferred prior to a formal evaluation of applications?Why do you feel this?
• Was there a formal and fair evaluation of the qualifications of each application?
• Do you feel that an independent auditor would find that DCHA selected the most qualified applicant?
• Can you send me a copy of each application?
• Why do you think Greenleaf District Partners (Pennrose, EYA, and Bozzuto Development) was selected as the final co-developers?
In October, the Board rejected a resolution to select Greenleaf District Partners (Pennrose, EYA, and Bozzuto Development). DCHA leadership had not shared information with the Board on how it reached this decision.
• Do you feel that DCHA executives did not want to share this information in October because it wanted to conceal information that would undermine a claim that it selected the most qualified applicant?
Are you aware of any quid pro quo related to DCHA’s selection of Pennrose, EYA, and Bozzuto?
• Does DCHA have a code of conduct or ethics document concerning DCHA employees’ vendor relations?
• Are you aware that any rules were broken based on this code of conduct? Describe.
• Can DCHA employees receive cash, gift cards, or gifts worth more than $25 from a developer representative?
• Are you aware that developers gave any DCHA employee or their family member money, gift cards, or any item or service worth more than $25?
• Are you aware of any DCHA employee or their family member receiving money or any item or servicevalued at more than $500?
• Other than Greenleaf redevelopment, are you aware of any shared business associations between DCHA employees or their family members and a representative from a private developer?
• Did a private developer give money, gift cards, or any item worth more than $25 to an entity to which a DCHA employee is connected such as a school or non-profit?
• Do you believe the mayor or any representative from a DC agency pressured DCHA to select Pennrose, EYA, and Bozzuto?
• Was there any strong suggestion from the major or any representation from a DC agency that Pennrose, EYA, and Bozzuto should be selected other than for reasons unrelated to qualifications?
What is the approximate value of land where Greenleaf currently sites?
• Given the value of the land, why isn’t DCHA considering self-development?
In 2018, Commissioner Vann-Ghasri, said that she did not believe that Greenleaf Gardens (the townhouses between M St and I St) should be redeveloped. Do you know why she would have said that?
• Is DCHA aware that the land under Greenleaf is likely contaminated?
What percentage of current Greenleaf resident will likely be in the redeveloped property once the project is complete?
Are you aware that DCHA formed a Greenleaf Advisory Group?
• Do you think that the Greenleaf Advisory Group is expected to sign off on what DCHA wants it to approve?
• Do you think that the Greenleaf Advisory Group was intended to shut out residents?
• Why hadn’t DCHA met with the Greenleaf AdvisoryGroup prior to asking the Board to approve a final co-developer in October 2020?
Do you believe that Greenleaf redevelopment will result in more gentrification in Southwest DC?
• Is DCHA likely to have fewer total public housing units in the redevelopment than it currently has?
• What percentage of each household size is likely to be in the redevelopment?
• Does DCHA care about whether it complies with the DC Comprehensive Plan and the Southwest Neighborhood Plan?
The following questions concern the meeting that DCHA held with residents in December 2019 in which the final developers presented their proposals.
• Did DCHA officials ask developers to withhold certain types of information to residents?
• At the time of the meeting, had DCHA decided unofficially on a preferred developer?
• Did any developer lie about anything in their presentation to Greenleaf and community members? What did they lie about
• Did DCHA lie about anything during the December 2019 meeting with residents? What did they lie about?
Do you believe that the DC Council should provide oversight of DCHA?
• Do you think that oversight of DCHA will result in information that would uncover any illegal activity at DCHA?
On a scale from 1 (least important)-10 (most important), how important are residents to DCHA?
On a scale from 1 (least important)-10 (most important), how important are developers to DCHA?
I sent the DCHA executive leadership and Board the following questions on January 22, 2021. I did not receive a response.
I have received additional information from multiple sources since my last email. I have more questions, Mr. Garrett.
Pennrose was included as part of the team that secured the final selection. Can you describe Mr. Garrett's long-time relationship with Pennrose dating back to his time at the Long Branch Housing Authority in New Jersey?
How did this relationship influence the final selection and every stage of the decision-making process thus far?
What disclosures involving a conflict of interest, if any, did Mr. Garrett make to staff and the Board about his long-time relationship with Pennrose? In what instances, if any, did Mr. Garrett abstain from voting?
Was Mr. Garrett known to have disclosed his longtime relationship with Pennrose with DCHA staff openly?
8 out of the 11 panelists who scored the final applications were DCHA staff. Did Mr. Garrett's known relationship with Pennrose influence DCHA staff who scored final applications and thus prevented a fair assessment?
Can DCHA publicly release the scoring sheets and allow staff to receive questions from the public about the final selection process?
How did Mr. Garrett's proclivity to fire staff inhibit staff's ability to accurately score final applications?
Did any staff feel that selecting a development team other than the team involving Pennrose would result in adverse employment action?
The Greenleaf redevelopment RFP strongly emphasized a Build First model. However, the final selection does not primarily seek a Build First model to minimize displacement unlike other applications. The plan wants to move residents into units at Capitol Park Plaza and Twins - units that are currently occupied. On its face, their selection seems problematic since other applications provided for Build First. Can DCHA provide a detailed explanation for the selection involving Pennrose et al?
Why would a source associated with DCHA's senior leadership say, "They were pushing that developer all through the process. One of DCHA's many procurement violations?" Has this anything to do with Mr. Garrett's longtime relationship with Pennrose?
Is DCHA aware that Capitol Park Plaza and Twins is the same age as Greenleaf and suffers from similar issues involving lack of building maintenance, vermin, and resident complaints about living conditions?
Is it true that DCHA wants to move residents into Capitol Park Plaza and Twins and give vouchers so that it can primarily build a market-rate residential building with few public housing units, as it has done with previous projects?