The Jacksonville Housing Authority (JHA) is currently under investigation by the city, according to three sources who confirmed the matter to News4JAX. The investigation reportedly centers around the oversight of funds for various programs, and a formal report is expected to be released soon. The Inspector General for the City of Jacksonville, Matthew Lascell, acknowledged the report but declined to provide further comments. The JHA, responsible for providing affordable housing to those in need, is currently headed by President and CEO Dwayne Alexander.
The investigation seems to have taken Alexander by surprise, who mentioned that he was aware of an inquiry related to a specific program but not an examination of the entire agency. He mentioned that such inquiries have been routine over the past five years, and the agency typically responds accordingly. The news of the city investigation coincides with a hold on a pay raise for Alexander. Mayor Donna Deegan’s office reportedly paused the pay increase to closely examine how the JHA is addressing the affordable housing crisis in the city.
While Alexander expressed uncertainty about the reason behind the pay pause, he stated that he is “fine with it.” His salary had increased earlier in the year to $250,000, and discussions about a further raise were put on hold last month. The mayor’s office argued that granting a pay raise at that time would send the wrong message to the community. The city stated that conversations about increased compensation could be reassessed at a future date.
An emergency meeting with the housing authority board has been scheduled for Monday, although the agenda remains unclear. Alexander took over as the head of the agency in 2018, succeeding the previous CEO Fred McKinnies, who was placed on paid administrative leave amid a city investigation into complaints against him. The investigation revealed that McKinnies had engaged in inappropriate relationships with staff and a tenant.
Addressing the affordable housing crisis has been a key focus for the Deegan administration, with initiatives and discussions aimed at streamlining the permitting process, creating a housing oversight committee, and providing incentives to developers and community housing partners. The housing crisis in Jacksonville is characterized by high demand and insufficient supply, with 98,000 people on a waiting list for low-income or Section 8 housing. The city council is expected to vote on various initiatives next week to address the issue.