Raleigh Report

January 28, 2014

Grassley blasts Raleigh Housing Authority in U.S. Senate speech

The Raleigh Housing Authority got a mention on the floor of the U.S. Senate Tuesday.

The Raleigh Housing Authority got a mention on the floor of the U.S. Senate Tuesday.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) spoke about outsize salaries and perks among directors of public housing agencies across the country. Grassley cited several examples of agencies where, he said, “federal funds end up feathering the nests of local housing authority bureaucrats instead of housing the poor.”

Grassley mentioned Bradenton, Fla., Tampa, Atlanta and Raleigh. Here’s what he said about the Raleigh Housing Authority, according to a transcript released by his office:

“The executive director of the Raleigh, North Carolina, housing authority receives about $280,000 in salary and benefits, plus up to 30 vacation days. He also accumulates comp time for any hours he works over seven and a half hours per day. He has used over 20 days of comp time per year since 2009. Add that to his regular vacation time, and he was out of the office nearly three months per year. Nine months of work for $280,000 is an annualized salary of nearly $375,000 per year.

“Very few taxpayer-funded jobs pay anything close to that amount. What is the justification for such high salaries?”

But Raleigh’s Steve Beam wasn’t the housing director Grassley cited as the “biggest salary jackpot winners.” That distinction went to Atlanta, where, according to the senator, “at least 22 employees earn between $150,000 and $303,000 per year.”

Grassley concluded by calling on President Barack Obama to curb the salary practices. “If the Obama administration is truly serious about income inequality, and not just using it for political purposes, it would stop shoveling taxpayer money out the door with practically no oversight, no controls, and no limits,” he said.

Grassley and U.S. Rep. George Holding, a Raleigh Republican, recently called for a federal audit of the Raleigh Housing Authority’s finances. Earlier this week, the agency’s board announced a new contract with Beam that curbs his use of comp time.

The actions follow a News & Observer series about Beam’s salary and comp time.

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