HICKORY, N.C. - Former employees claim a manager at the Hickory Housing Authority offered to pay female tenants’ rent for sexual favors.
The claims are part of a 10-page complaint filed with the federal government.
Hickory City leader discussed ways to have more oversight of the Housing Authority after learning of allegations of misuse of taxpayer money.
Mayor Rudy Wright said Wednesday night he plans on attending the next meeting of the Hickory Housing Authority Board.
Alanda Richardson, the CEO of the agency, told Channel 9’s Dave Faherty that she's not coming to the meeting.
She has run the Hickory Housing Authority for the past 17 years.
Working with a $5 million annual budget, she oversees nearly 300 low-income homes in Hickory.
But former workers claim some of those tenants said a manager was willing to accept their rent for sex.
Richardson says that allegation comes from former disgruntled employees.
“To my knowledge, that did not happen,” Richardson said. “No one ever brought that to my attention. No staff member ever brought it to my attention. No resident ever complained."
But she did admit to providing employees with money for Mary Kay makeup, buying iPads for board members and spending thousands on trips to Martha's Vineyard, Hilton Head Island and Las Vegas.
“I have no regrets. No. Training is crucial. Staff development is important,” Richardson said.
This isn't the first time the housing authority has come under fire for its spending.
In 2012, a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development investigation found Richardson's ex-husband got a $2,800 contract for lawn maintenance and a board member's own brother received more than $500,000 to keep the buildings up.
HUD required the agency to pay the money back. But despite those missteps, Richardson has support from longtime residents.
“It makes me feel good to see what it was from people, not caring, breaking windows to stuff like that. She fixed it up. She really did,” resident Johnny Clemons said.
Not all of the money was spent there. Richardson told Channel 9 that she authorized using $1,200 at an upscale restaurant in Hickory for a retirement party.
“It was a retirement party for employee who had been here for 14 years,” Richardson said.