GHA terminates Section 8 director accused of misusing position

Published: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 at 4:44 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 at 4:44 p.m.

The Section 8 director at the Gainesville Housing Authority has been fired on allegations she misused her position to get family members into the subsidized housing voucher program.

The former director, Barbara Richardson, circumvented the program’s waiting list to get her family members and family members of her husband into the program, which provides recipients with housing vouchers to use at private apartment complexes, according to a Sept. 11 notice of termination.

Richardson also granted “preferential treatment” to her daughter and falsified documents in order for her daughter to get into an apartment larger than what she should qualify for based on the size of her household and her income, according to the termination notice and GHA Executive Director Pamela Davis.

A niece of Richardson’s, Alexis Brown, brought the situation to the attention of GHA officials.

Knocks on the door of Richardson’s listed address went unanswered Tuesday. Richardson was granted the opportunity to challenge her firing but did not, Davis said. Richardson had worked at GHA since 1996.

At this point, it appears Richardson misused her position to benefit at least five family members, Davis said. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s inspector general also is investigating the matter, Davis said.

“It’s not that family can’t apply, but we try to remove ourselves from any conflict so we are not the one touching the file,” Davis said, noting that GHA employees should not be handling vouchers or other issues involving family members.

A prior executive director had raised concerns over Richardson dealing directly with family members’ applications and cases or supervising staff that was doing so.

In a July 2010 memo, former GHA Executive Director Gail Monahan, who is the longtime director of the Alachua County Housing Authority, noted that a staff member under Richardson was looking for the file of an adult child of Richardson.

Monahan noted that she already had stated that she was supposed to handle any files of Richardson’s family members -- not Richardson or staff under her.

“It is neither fair nor professional to expect staff who you supervise to do family certifications,” Monahan wrote.

She went on to state that this “is a huge issue for me and one that needs discussion and policy.”

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