Feature: The Devil & Carl Greene

Is he a serial sexual harasser and tyrannical boss, as some of his former employees allege? Or is he the most effective public-housing leader in the history of Philadelphia, as he and his defenders contend? Or could Carl Greene, somehow, be both?


 “I never heard of any other housing authority that had the number of concurrent projects as the Philadelphia Housing Authority,” he says easily, smiling and showing off very large, very white teeth. “We had sort of a stunning transformation over a short period of time, going through all the really bad housing projects …. A lot of people across the country wanted to do the same, but what you won’t see is the same scale in any other city.”

 And here’s the thing: He’s right. Carl Greene rode in from Detroit a little more than a decade ago and demanded — through sheer force of personality — that his agency would no longer be a patronage dumping ground for Bob Brady and city council and ward leaders, that employees would come to work and really do their jobs and perform on a level that would remake public housing in this city.

There is plenty of hard evidence — the stuff of mortar and bricks — on how Greene changed the landscape of Philadelphia. How he improved the lives of 84,000 “customers,” as he calls them. How he not only rebuilt communities, but created senior centers and job training initiatives, and recently began pushing the housing authority into public education. Where there were drug- and crime-ridden high-rise towers in West and North Philly and East Falls, there are now functioning neighborhoods. Where PHA-owned homes blighted blocks in places like Spring Garden, they’ve been rehabbed. Where Section 8 housing was a horror in the Northeast, Greene trained owners and tenants in the art of joining a community.

Carl Greene will tell you, again and again, that he did all that — and so will a lot of other people. He was on a mission. Which, of course, only makes the other side, the apparent great divide in him, more perplexing: Why, Carl, why?

Greene has had a lot of time over the last few months to think, to come up with his own answer to that. He’s been in therapy, and it’s given him a language to explain himself.

“While you can bury things and not think about things and wrap yourself up in the present,” Carl Greene says, “the past is not far behind.”

BEFORE HIS LIFE BLEW APART LAST SUMMER, Greene seemed to be on top of the world. The extraordinary things he’d accomplished with PHA had given him stature nationally in public housing. And there was no sign of him letting up — he had some $200 million worth of new housing projects in the works.

The downfall began in August, when the Inquirer reported that his Naval Square townhouse, worth $615,000, was in foreclosure; Greene hadn’t made a mortgage payment in months. The previous December, the paper also reported, the IRS had filed a $52,000 lien against him for unpaid taxes on income earned outside of PHA. (Greene paid off the lien in March of last year.)

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  • KJ

    I’m sorry, but Carl Greene gets no sympathy here! As a former Executive at PHA, I witness his abusive behavior towards too many employees up front and personally–The reprisals, dismissals, the tirades (particularly after his night out drinking),the unwanted solicitations, and vindictive behavior that he exhibited was very real for both male and female employees; Carl Greene fostered a culture of fear at PHA, period! The whisking off, or abduction (yes, I said abduction) of that Assist General Manager was indicative of how Carl Green ran a psycho-ops and his intent to induced compliance to even his personal pleasures; There are countless other women who experienced Carl’s psychotic behavior. I was particularly perturbed by his menacing treatment of anyone he perceived as standing in the way of his desires, his exploits! And, exploit he did…whether married or single, Carl would let no man, nothing, stand in his way! So, what do you know…the Real Carl, a tyrant, sexual predator, manipulator and Ego maniac, finally got in his own way! This man has a very dark and troubling side; I only wish that he had been stopped sooner and sought treatment–like before he came to Philadelphia! Rendell, Street, the…

  • Donna

    There is a very simple explanation for the riddle of Carl Green. He is a sociopath. Hollywood tells us that a sociopath is a serial killer. The truth is, most sociopaths never kill anyone. And one expert says that 1% of the general population are sociopaths, but 3% of corporate executives are sociopaths.

    A sociopath is a person with no heart, no conscience and no remorse. Green exhibits classic signs of this personality disorder: Egocentricity and grandiosity. Rage when challenged. Manipulation. Sexual aggression. Belief that the rules do not apply to him. Financial problems. Blaming others for anything that goes wrong. Sociopaths in business frequently bring organizations down. That’s what Green has done.

    I have written extensively about this case in the Lovefraud Blog. People need to be aware of this personality disorder – especially when they’re considering a candidate for a position of power and responsibility.

  • Betty

    Come drive around Southwest Center City and you’ll have no problem picking out the PHA houses. They’re the ones in disrepair housing drug dealers and dealers. No sympathy for Greene at all. He sat in his gated community at Naval Square while inflicting pestilence on the surrounding neighborhood.

  • Betty

    Come drive around Southwest Center City and you’ll have no problem picking out the PHA houses. They’re the ones in disrepair housing drug dealers and dealers. No sympathy for Greene at all. He sat in his gated community at Naval Square while inflicting pestilence on the surrounding neighborhood.

  • Norm

    Unfortunately Carl Green suffers from the same problem that many great leaders suffer from. Absolute power. Carl Green proved himself to be an effective leader in turning around the housing authority. This was such a monumental task that he became a trusted leader who was beyond question. It was at this point when the traits of many great leaders emerged. These traits are sociopathy and narcissism. The same internal drivers that are responsible for his great abilities are also at the root of his downfall. The old saying still rings true, “Absolute power corrupts, absolutely!” All public leaders need to learn from this and make certain that there are checks, balances and transparancy in all business practices.