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Pittsburgh Housing Authority leader leaving for Charlotte

| Friday, Aug. 31, 2012, 10:42 a.m.
Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh executive director A. Fulton Meachem, Jr.
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh executive director A. Fulton Meachem, Jr.

A. Fulton Meachem Jr. said Friday he has no regrets about the six years he spent running the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh during controversies and triumphs but he's eager to move closer to relatives in North Carolina, where he'll take a higher-paying job.

Meachem, 43, of Banksville resigned as executive director to become CEO of the Charlotte Housing Authority effective Oct. 1.

He's proud of his legacy of demolishing outmoded high-rises such as St. Clair Village, Auburn Towers in Larimer, Addison Terrace in the Hill District and Garfield Heights to make way for modern, mixed-income rental units with individual entrances and amenities such as computers.

“All of the development that we've done we're extremely happy with because it's really changing the lives of individuals,” he said. “This housing is not housing of last resort anymore, it's housing of choice.”

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said in a statement that he is grateful for Meachem's leadership. He did not respond to an interview request.

City Councilman Ricky Burgess, the authority's chairman, said Meachem was an outstanding executive director. He said the board likely would talk next week about appointing an interim director, then search for a replacement.

Meachem said moving makes sense for him even though he's in the midst of a five-year contract the board authorized in early 2010. His parents live in North Carolina. His eldest son recently began attending his father's alma mater, North Carolina Central University.

Meachem will be paid $195,000 a year, a roughly 15 percent increase over his $170,000 salary in Pittsburgh.

Meachem said he's not leaving because of questions City Controller Michael Lamb and Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. raised about the authority's former security contractor, Victory Security, which Zappala said inappropriately used constables to do police work, or questions about two authority-related nonprofits — Clean Slate E3 Inc. and Allies & Ross Management and Development Corp.

Clean Slate E3 Inc. provides a youth scholarship program and Allies & Ross Management and Development Corp. is the authority's development arm. Zappala has said he wants to know how many scholarships Clean Slate distributed and why Allies & Ross is necessary.

Lamb said his office is doing a performance audit. Early on, he met resistance from authority officials who argued that Lamb doesn't have authority to audit an agency that receives money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and not the city.

Meachem said the authority complied with “all HUD rules and regulations” in previous audits and he's not concerned about what Lamb might find.

Meachem said Allies & Ross is necessary to protect the authority from financial default risk when it teams with developers on construction projects and to put up publicly-owned housing as collateral for financing. He said the practice is common among authorities.

Clean Slate, he said, distributed 20 scholarships in the past year.

“There's no reason for us to hang our head about the activities that we've done; we're very, very proud of them,” Meachem said.

Jeremy Boren is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7935

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