Dayton housing authority CEO quits

Proposed pay for GDPM exec would exceed federal cap

The interim CEO of the Dayton region’s housing authority has resigned after three months on the job, as the agency’s governing board works to re-hire a former boardmember at a salary exceeding federal pay limits.

“I earned the Chief Executive Officer opportunity and I am proud of my contributions and accomplishments to (the housing authority) both individually and collectively with my peers,” says Jeff Rieck’s letter of resignation, which gives his last day as June 13.

Greater Dayton Premier Management board Chairman the Rev. Wilburt Shanklin said Rieck took a job with another housing authority. Rieck, who lives in Butler County, did not return calls for comment Wednesday.

GDPM’s governing board promoted Jennifer Heapy to the interim CEO post. Heapy has been with the agency for two years and worked in the agency’s legal office as a compliance officer.

“I think the commissioners, and myself, and the entire staff are focused on our commitment, and that’s providing safe and affordable housing for those in need,” Heapy said Wednesday.

Shanklin said an employment contract including compensation is being drafted for Heapy.

Awaiting HUD ruling

Rieck was — and Heapy is — keeping the chair warm while the agency’s governing board awaits a final decision from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on whether it can hire its first pick for the job, Danyelle S.T. Wright.

HUD objected to the hiring of Wright after this newspaper reported that she stepped down as board chairwoman to apply for the job and briefly oversaw the hiring process. HUD rules prohibit a board member from working for the agency for a year after leaving the board.

GDPM applied for a waiver to this rule.

Wright was hired in January at s salary of $170,000 but had to step down before collecting her first paycheck. If she is rehired at the same rate, she would become the fifth-highest paid housing authority employee in the state, according to newly released HUD data.

Reick’s salary was $120,000, making him the 13th-highest paid in the state.

Wright would be one of eight housing authority executives across Ohio to be paid more than the $155,000 federal cap on HUD executive pay. Housing authorities get around this cap by paying executives $155,000 out of federal funds and making up the difference with state and local funds.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who has questioned pay practices at the Dayton housing authority among many others, pressured HUD to release salary data for all housing authorities in the country for the first time.

The data show that across the country there are 293 housing authority executives whose pay exceeds the federal cap.

“Too many housing authority executives use tax dollars to feather their own nests,” he said. “HUD needs to enforce the salary cap on federal funding.”

Top pay in Columbus

The highest paid housing authority official in Ohio is the CEO of the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority, whose total compensation is $205,315. In second place is Gregory Johnson, who left the Dayton housing authority in April 2012 amid turmoil and later was hired at the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority, where his pay is now $183,662.

GDPM has struggled to keep the top job filled since Johnson left.

GDPM is the region’s public housing authority. It has a $47 million budget, 154 employees, 2,700 public housing units and 3,900 vouchers serving roughly 8,000 families in the Dayton region.

In May, agency governing board Chairman Bill Vaughn left the agency after serving on the board 10 years. He said he stepped down because he had served two terms, which is the customary limit. GDPM’s governing board is appointed by county commissioners, Dayton’s mayor and county judges.

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