At a time when the Newark Housing Authority has had to lay off 99 people, its Executive Director, Harold Lucas, whose salary is $190,000 ($30,000 more than the mayor), has been renovating his office with taxpayer money, to include a $2,850 42-inch plasma television. Indeed the total cost of renovations during the past 18 months is approximately $400,000.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington (“HUD”) has recently sent Mr. Lucas a letter questioning the Authority’s spending practices, which include a payment in June of $25,000 to Kelstar Rising Inc., a non-profit organization run by Mr. Lucas’s daughter. In addition, Mr. Lucas’s wife, son, daughter-in-law and sister-in-law are employed by the Housing Authority and are paid a combined $190,942.
There is a bit of irony in HUD investigating Mr. Lucas’s running of the Newark Housing Authority, because Mr. Lucas had served as HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing in the Clinton Administration. In September 1998, during the hearings on Mr. Lucas’s nomination to the federal post, Senator Frank Lautenberg told the members of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, “I can personally attest to [Mr. Lucas’s] integrity and ability to work well within a larger organization.”