The chief executive officer of the Durham Housing Authority was awarded a $3,000 raise and $15,000 bonus less than a week before the agency evacuated more than 300 McDougald Terrace residents following reports of a massive gas leak and elevated carbon monoxide levels in their homes.
“These awards are the result of your continuous contribution to the success of the Authority,” Dan Hudgins, chairman of the DHA Board of Commissioners, wrote in a December 30 memo to Scott informing him of the raise. “We recognize your efforts and would like to reward you for that. We also hope this will encourage you to perform even better; there is always room for improvement.”
On January 3, four days after Scott received word of the pay increase, DHA officials evacuated 270 McDougald Terrace households in South Durham following reports of a massive gas leak. Prior to the being displaced to 12 area hotels, Mac residents were contending with elevated carbon monoxide emissions from 211 stoves, 38 furnaces, and 34 water heaters.
In the weeks since being evacuated, the residents have also complained about the mold conditions in their homes, pervasive sewage problems, lead paint being painted over, bed bugs, roaches, deadly violence, and the deaths of three infants between November 20 and January 1.
The state medical examiner this month ruled out carbon monoxide poisoning as the cause of the infants’ death, but pathologists have not yet said how they died.
DHA has spent $485,000 to temporarily house McDougald Terrace in hotels and for transportation, the agency reported this week.
At the crux of the pay increase, was Scott’s efforts to improve the DHA’s relationship with “key” officials within the city and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, “which DHA has lacked in the past,” according to the memo, which The News & Observer first reported on Thursday.
Hudgins wrote that the agency’s improved relationship with city officials is reflected in their confidence that the DHA has the ability to undertake the major renovations and building effort that will take place over the next five years as part of the $95 million affordable housing bond that voters overwhelmingly approved in November.
The DHA will receive $59 million to upgrade its communities near the downtown district. None of the funding will go toward improving McDougald Terrace, the city’s largest and oldest public housing complex.
In the memo, Hudgins admitted that even though “DHA has historically faltered in completing lesser projects, the board believed Scott “has the skill, education, experience, drive, and ability to complete this most ambitious plan on time and on budget.”
Hudgins also said that in 2018, the public housing program improved by several “important,” albeit unspecified, “metrics.”
The DHA chairman then pointed to “persistent problems” with the turnaround of units, timely rent collection, management of the agency’s waiting list, and vacancies, said that the “hiring of a director of operations did not result in significant improvement in these problems,” and pointed out unexpected delays in the completion of “several major initiatives” at the Goley Pointe, Morreene Road, and Damar Court housing complexes.
He also noted that the DHA failed twice in its attempts to acquire a 9 percent low-income housing tax credit, which city officials often point out are highly competitive.
The N&O reports that Scott was hired in 2016 at a salary of $195,000 and given a monthly car allowance of $550. Scott received a $19,500 bonus and a 2.5 percent raise for his 2017 performance.
Hudgins and Carl Newman, the DHA’s general counsel, could not be reached for comment Friday.
Contact staff writer Thomasi McDonald at email@example.com.
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