BREAKING: Simms Out at Atlanta Housing Authority
(APN) ATLANTA — Barney Simms, the number two smiling face behind mass demolition of public housing and mass displacement of low-income residents in Atlanta, is no longer working at the Atlanta Housing Authority, Atlanta Progressive News has learned.
Simms began as a critic of AHA and went on to hold the position of Vice President for External Affairs, doing most of the interactions with members of the public, resident leaders, and government officials, during the most recent round of public housing demolitions around 2008.
Simms famously said he wanted to be sitting in the bulldozer when Bowen Homes, one of the public housing family communities, was torn down.
James Allen, a Board Member at AHA, confirmed that Simms left AHA this week, but said that he had no comment at this time.
“All I can say is hallelujah and praise the Lord,” Anita Beaty, Executive Director of the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless, told APN.
The move represents a significant step in ending the era of the demolition coalition, who included Renee Glover, CEO of AHA; Simms; and Rick White of the Alisias PR firm.
APN broke the story several months ago that Glover would be leaving AHA; the next day AHA submitted a press release regarding Glover’s pending departure. However, to date, Glover has not left the agency, and it is widely believed that is in part because the Board of Commissioners and Glover could not agree on a severance package with respect to Glover’s five-year contract with AHA.
APN also reported several months ago that the Board of Commissioners had cut the Alisias budget from nearly a million dollars to 85,000 dollars per year.
Among Simms’s greatest hits:
In 2007, Simms called security to force activist Terence Courtney out of the Palmer House senior high rise, where Courtney was meeting with resident leaders to talk about trying to save their homes.
In 2007, Simms lied to residents at a Hollywood Courts resident association meeting, when he said he was sure that vouchers would not be cut. In fact, funding for vouchers faced severe cuts under the Bush Administration; even project-based assistance has faced cuts under Obama; and the funding for vouchers is subject to Congressional approval every year.
In 2007, Simms defended AHA’s having sent in fraudulent meeting minutes from the Resident Advisory Board to HUD. The minutes were typed up by AHA and sent to HUD as the association’s own minutes, even though the association keeps their own minutes. Simms referred to the fraudulent minutes as the incomplete minutes. “These are not the complete minutes. These are the minutes that impact what we did,” Simms said.
In 2007, Simms made libelous statements about APN in an email, referring to APN’s sixty-article series on the public housing demolitions as “the editor’s opinions and innuendo, which are seldom based on facts.”
In 2008, Simms lied to the Community Development/Human Resources Cmte about the promises AHA had made to the Council which were incorporated into a resolution by Councilman Felicia Moore (District 9). Simms told the Cmte that AHA had only promised to give the Council time to review demolition applications for only three communities being considered for demolition, when in fact the broken promise, and the legislation, included all seven communities.