Former Phila. Housing Authority leader Kelly tapped for post in D.C.

Three days after Michael Kelly abruptly stepped down as head of the Philadelphia Housing Authority, Washington D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray has named Kelly as director of the District’s Department of Housing and Community Development.

Kelly’s resignation was accepted Friday by the agency’s lone board commissioner, Karen Newton-Cole, but neither PHA nor the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development offered any explanation, which sparked questions. He was credited with major reforms at PHA after taking over in December 2010 following the departure of Carl Greene amid a sexual harassment scandal.

Kelly told the Philadelphia Tribune on Friday that his departure was for family reasons, denying any political strife internally or with city officials. By accepting the position in D.C., where he previously served as head of the District’s Housing Authority, Kelly would return to the area where his family still resides, which would seem to support his explanation. His appointment will move John Hall, DCHD’s current director, to a new role as senior advisor to the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development. Both will be part of crafting D.C.’s affordable housing strategy.

In a statement announcing the changes, Gray said, “Affordable housing is an issue of utmost importance to a large percentage of District residents, and addressing that issue is a priority for my administration. With the team of Michael Kelly and John Hall in place, we will be better equipped to tackle this complex challenge.”

Kelvin Jeremiah, PHA’s director of Audit and Compliance, will replace Kelly on an interim basis while a national search is conducted.

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