Joliet housing chief off on leave
by Bob Okon email@example.com May 2, 2012 8:54PM
Updated: June 4, 2012 11:44AM
JOLIET — The longtime chief executive officer of the Housing Authority of Joliet has taken a leave of absence, and it’s not clear when he might come back.
CEO Henry Morris took a leave of absence on April 24 from his $141,000 a year job directing public housing in Joliet.
HAJ officials this week would not explain why Morris suddenly left the agency that he has headed since 1991.
“It’s a personnel issue,” HAJ attorney Eric Hanson said Wednesday. “Those are private matters. It’s not something that the housing authority can talk about because it’s a personnel issue.”
Mayor Thomas Giarrante, who appoints the HAJ board of trustees, said HAJ is investigating an internal matter related to Morris’s leave. But he did not provide details.
“There have been some allegations, and they’re looking into it,” Giarrante said.
Although the mayor appoints HAJ board members, the agency is separate from the city of Joliet and funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The city has no direct oversight of HAJ, although it does have influence on the board.
Joliet Councilwoman Susie Barber is chairwoman of the HAJ board.
When contacted on Monday, Barber said she did not know why Morris left.
“I’m trying to look into it myself,” Barber said. “He’s on a leave of absence right now until further notice.”
Barber could not be reached Wednesday.
He has been replaced by Deputy CEO Michael Simelton.
Simelton did not return a call seeking a comment. Hanson said Simelton typically stands in for Morris when he’s on vacation.
HAJ runs public housing apartment complexes for low-income residents and senior housing, as well as administering Section 8 housing vouchers. The agency in recent years also has developed nonprofit arms that developed the Liberty Meadow Estates subdivision and is working on a supportive living center for senior residents.