Another Head Rolls in Housing Dept

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Posted June 23, 2009 by Jeff Prince in Blotch

This post written by Betty Brink

In the ongoing saga of the Fort Worth Housing Department scandal, another of fired director Jerome Walker’s cohorts has been shown the door. City communications staffer Diane Covey wrote in an email today that the latest person to go is Donald Cager, once the right-hand man to Walker and his partner in a controversial deal in which the two formed a non-profit construction company, first called City Construction, Inc., and then Fort Worth Construction Company, under the umbrella of the non-profit Fort Worth Housing Finance Corp., a city-owned financing mechanism that used federal funds to build or rehabilitate housing for low- to medium-income families, and to provide low-interest loans to the occupants under a plethora of federal programs aimed at reducing poverty.

Cager resigned on Friday, she wrote. That makes him the fifth person in the department to either be fired or to resign, including Walker. Several more are on probation, according to Jason Lamers, head of the city’s communication department.

Sources in the department, who asked not to be named for fear of retribution, told the Weekly that Cager was forced out. One also said that an investigator from the U. S. Housing and Urban Development Department’s Office of Inspector General announced to the staff last week that the OIG was investigating the department and that anyone with information about fraud should call him. He promised that their jobs would be protected, the source said.

As Walker’s second-in-command, Cager oversaw the construction or rehabilitation of houses for low-income families using the city-sponsored construction company to do the work and financing the construction or repairs with federal funds. The company has been accused by whistle blowers from the department of getting work that was not put out for bids, as required by state and federal regulations, and completing jobs without city permits or city inspections, another violation of HUD rules as well as the city’s regulations. Shoddy construction practices and bypassing the city’s own permitting regulations were two of the reasons given by Walker’s boss, housing and economic development director Jay Chapa, for firing him.

Cager, a former employee of HUD, could not be reached for comment.


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