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Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Poised to Take Over Housing Authority; Vote Scheduled for Monday

Responding to serious problems and mismanagement first investigated by New Times and subsequently confirmed in a blistering audit by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors is poised to again take over the Housing Authority of Maricopa County.

The Board is scheduled to vote Monday on a resolution that would replace the agency's Board of Commissioners with the five county supervisors. They will receive assistance from an advisory board.

The housing authority had previously been under county control, but was spun off as a stand-alone agency in 2004. Each of its commissioners was appointed by a member of the board of supervisors or the county manager, but the county had no direct control over the agency's operations.

That became a problem earlier this year, when New Times reported that the agency's executive director, Doug Lingner, used agency funds to hire family members and treat himself to meals and travel.

On Lingner's watch, the housing authority also awarded contracts for federal stimulus funds to contractors that had supported Lingner during his time on the Phoenix City Council -- including one firm tied to the longtime chairman of the agency's board of commissioners.

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Lingner was forced to resign after an attorney hired by the commissioners confirmed the allegations in New Times' story; the agency's chairman, Richard Cole, announced at that point he would not seek reappointment.

Terri Leija, chief of staff for Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, tells New Times Wilcox supports the measure. She says there's support for the move from other supervisors but wouldn't say whether she expected it to pass.

Calls to other members of the BOS were not immediately returned this afternoon.

Check back to Valley Fever next week for updates.

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