The real reason behind the Chicago Housing Authority’s former CEO Charles Woodyard’s recent and sudden resignation was revealed today. A Freedom of Information Act request by Chicago Tribune reporter Lolly Bowean showed that the day before Woodyard’s October 15 resignation, the CHA reached a $99,000 settlement with a former female employee who had accused him of sexual harassment.
This is the second time in just three years that the CHA loses a CEO amidst allegations of ethical misconduct. Woodyard’s predecessor Lewis Jordan resigned in 2011 over alleged misuse of CHA credit cards. Mayor Rahm Emanuel had summoned Woodyard from Chalotte, N.C. to replace Jordan and shake up the city’s public housing agency. Woodyard was supposed to be the visionary leader to spearhead the completion of the CHA’s long drawn-out Plan for Transformation, a $1.6 billion overhaul of Chicago’s public housing stock.
Woodyard’s replacement Michael Merchant is the former head of Chicago’s Department of Buildings, and is the sixth director to head the agency since 2000. He certainly has his work cut out for him: Delivering on over 7,500 housing units to fulfill the CHA’s 25,000-unit Plan for Transformation commitment, resolving the agency’s outrageously high unit vacancy problem, and cracking down on Section 8 slumlords should be top priorities.