US Rep. George Holding calls for federal audit of Raleigh Housing Authority

ccampbell@newsobserver.comJanuary 6, 2014 

Raleigh Housing Authority Director Steve Beam leads the agency's monthly meeting on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013.

COREY LOWENSTEIN — clowenst@newsobserver.com Buy Photo

— Congressman George Holding announced Monday that he’s requested a federal audit of the Raleigh Housing Authority following reports that the agency’s director earns up to $280,000 and takes off nearly 11 weeks a year.

Citing a recent series of articles in The News & Observer, Holding, a Raleigh Republican, said in a news release that Steve Beam’s high pay and time off “raises the question as to whether our tax dollars are being spent wisely.”

“Our economy has stalled over the last few years, and North Carolinians are struggling to find jobs and provide for their families,” Holding said in the statement. “Now imagine how frustrating it is for them to find out that housing officials are pulling down … $280,000 in compensation while also taking off up to 11 weeks a year.

“It violates the public’s faith in government and is just plain wrong.”

Housing authority records show that Beam has been using a combination of vacation, sick and comp days each year – in part to pursue a side business as a well-respected magician specializing in card tricks. He travels to magic conferences across the country, often using comp time accrued by working beyond the standard 7.5-hour workday. In recent years, he’s taken up to 20 comp days a year.

Beam, whose annual compensation includes a base salary of $240,000 along with bonuses, longevity payments and car allowances, has full support from his city-appointed board. He is one of the highest-paid housing directors in the country, and his pay is higher than the managers of Raleigh and Wake County, who oversee much larger budgets and staffs.

Because the majority of the Raleigh Housing Authority’s $50 million comes from the federal government, Holding wants the Department of Housing and Urban Development to audit the agency’s spending.

“It certainly runs up a red flag when the RHA pays its executive director more than the director of the Chicago Housing Authority or the governor of North Carolina,” Holding said in the news release.

Beam issued a brief statement Monday in response to Holding’s announcement, pointing to 26 years of clean internal audits his agency has received. “RHA receives on average more than ten audits per year,” he wrote in an email. “We are confident the results from subsequent audits will be consistent with all previous audits.”

Campbell: 919-829-4802;

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