ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Council members voted Thursday to remove three members of the St. Petersburg Housing Authority Board. Board members Ann Sherman-White, Harry Harvey and Delphinia Davis lost their positions. This comes after the other two board members were not reappointed.
None of the ousted board members or their attorney showed up to city hall to defend themselves.
The vote was recommended by St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman. He says the three board members are accused of neglecting their duties and withholding information from the public.
A city report details how the housing board allowed CEO Tony Love to live rent-free in an affordable housing apartment owned by the authority. Love at the time was making $140,000 a year.
The apartment Love used was meant to be used by a low-income family. It comes at a time when 16,000 Pinellas County residents are on waiting lists for affordable housing and the city struggles to find the space for families that need a place to live at a reasonable rate.
City leaders also say the Housing Authority approved a 7% pay increase, which amounts to $10,000, for Love without first reviewing his performance evaluations.
In addition, city documents detail from 1995 to 2018, the Housing Authority did not submit annual reports to the city, which are required.
According to the city, board member Shermin-White, was absent from 40 percent of the regular board meetings in 2018.
The three board members are also fighting back. They recently hired lawyer Ross Nabatoff, who is based out of Washington D.C., to represent them in the removal process. The attorney tells ABC Action News his clients deny all allegations of misconduct.
City leaders and a handful of residents expressed concern Thursday about the impact this removal could have on a future affordable housing project. The board members in question just voted on a plan to redevelop Jordan Park by rehabilitating 206 homes and building a 60-unit apartment complex.
Questions have been raised in the city about how the pending lawsuit and removal of board members will impact the financing of the Jordan Park project.
Maria Scruggs, a representative with the NAACP spoke during public comment. “To take an action that puts the Jordan Park project in jeopardy of being completed is a direct impact on low income residents in South St. Petersburg," she explained while urging council members to vote against the removal of the board members.