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 (â€œHUDâ€) has recently sent Mr. Lucas a letter questioning the Authorityâ€™s spending practices, which include a payment in June of $25,000 to Kelstar Rising Inc., a non-profit organization run by Mr. Lucasâ€™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. Lucasâ€™s running of the Newark Housing Authority, because Mr. Lucas had served as HUDâ€™s Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing in the Clinton Administration. In September 1998, during the hearings on Mr. Lucasâ€™s nomination to the federal post, Senator Frank Lautenberg told the members of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, â€œI can personally attest to [Mr. Lucasâ€™s] integrity and ability to work well within a larger organization.â€