(APN) HUD Secretary Owns Stake in AHA HOPE VI
HUD Secretary Owns Stake in AHA Leading HOPE VI
By Matthew Cardinale, News Editor, The Atlanta
Progressive News (October 07, 2007)
(APN) ATLANTA In an apparent conflict of interest,
Secretary of the US Department of Housing and Urban
Development (HUD), Alphonso Jackson, owns a stake in
Atlanta-based company Columbia Residential, which
landed major HOPE VI redevelopment grants with the
Atlanta Housing Authority (AHA), according to an
article, "Questionable Contracts," published in the
National Journal magazine on October 04, 2007.
National Journal is a Washington, DC, based magazine
for policy professionals.
"The Secretary still has financial ties to one housing
developer. According to Jackson's financial disclosure
reports, an Atlanta-based development company,
Columbia Residential, owes him $250,000 to $500,000.
Before joining HUD, his spokesman said, Jackson was a
partner/consultant for the developer, the National
Columbia Residential has been intimately involved in
redeveloping two of AHAs HOPE VI projects, McDaniel
Glen and Perry Homes, according to documents obtained
by Atlanta Progressive News.
The former Petty Homes complex is now the West
Highlands, with current or planned developments called
Columbia Estates, Colubmia Heritage, Columbia Park
Citi, Columbia Crest, and Columbia Grove.
AHA received $25.1 million from HUD to fund the West
HUD Secretary Jackson stood with Noel F. Khalil,
President of Columbia Residential, when he praised the
West Highlands in a 2004 article in The Story
newspaper, and that day announced an additional $20
million in federal funding to AHA for McDaniel Glen,
also a redevelopment site for Columbia Residential.
Columbia Residential, LLC, is a registered Georgia
LLC, with several affiliated Georgia entities,
organized on March 24, 2000, and the registered agent
is Khalil, according to the corporations database of
the Secretary of State of Georgia.
"According to his disclosure reports, Jackson is to
receive periodic payments for past services under a
separation agreement with the company. He has received
only one such payment in the past six years -- $35,000
in 2003. HUD officials said that Jackson avoids any
dealings with Columbia Residential. They released a
memo he wrote in August 2001 in which he recused
himself from HUD matters having 'a direct and
predictable effect on the ability or willingness' of
the company 'to satisfy its obligation to compensate
me for prior service rendered.'" the National Journal
"Columbia Residential recently was part of a team that
won a $127 million competitive contract from HANO
[Housing Authority of New Orleans] to redevelop the
St. Bernard public housing project, which has been
shuttered since Katrina. In his written responses, HUD
spokesman Brown said that Jackson was not part of the
selection team and played no 'role in the selection of
any team members.' The four-member selection panel
included Scott Keller, who was until recently
Jackson's deputy chief of staff and who is often
described within HUD as Jackson's 'right-hand man.'
But in an interview, Keller said that because of the
press of other HUD business he did not participate in,
or influence, the selection of the Columbia
Residential team. Keller left HUD in August to become
a private consultant," the National Journal wrote.
The revelations about Jacksons stake in Columbia
Residential were somewhat buried within the lengthy
National Journal article, which focuses on an
investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigations
and the HUD Inspector Generals Office, of Jackson,
for apparently steering a contract with HANO to a golf
buddy of his, William Hairston.
An Associated Press (AP) report was widely circulated
about the issue of Mr. Hairston after the National
Journal article was published, but did not mention the
Secretarys stake in Columbia Residential.
The AP also recalled another recent scandal involving
Jackson and HUD contracts.
"Last year, Jackson became a focus of controversy
after telling a Dallas business group that he had
rejected a HUD contract because the prospective
contractor criticized Bush. Jackson apologized, said
he made up the story, and declared that [HUD]
contracts were never awarded or rejected because of
political favoritism," the AP reports.
About the author:
Matthew Cardinale is the News Editor for The Atlanta
Progressive News and may be reached at
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