As director of the Raleigh Housing Authority for the last 18 years, Steve Beam straightened out an agency reeling from the carbon monoxide deaths of two facility residents, oversaw an expansion and seemed to maintain a willingness to listen to residents.
But Beam, who has announced his retirement, also got into a bit of the soup for using considerable amounts of compensation time to attend to his avocation of magic. And Beam made total compensation of up to $280,000 a year, substantially more than some housing authority directors in other cities.
All that said, the difficulties Beam had were more about a lack of oversight from his board than anything else. As that board prepares to hire a new director, Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane should keep a close eye on the process and the compensation package.
Beam did a good job, regardless of relatively minor difficulties. It’s a hard task to oversee 5,000-plus housing authority units, ensuring that the units themselves are safe and comfortable. He seemed to have a sturdy relationship with residents. And he oversaw a redevelopment of Walnut Terrace, a $50 million project.
The authority board should have learned from its mistakes, but it should seek outside input with regard to a successor for Beam. And that includes from members of the Raleigh City Council and the mayor.