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Haddon Twp. man battles eviction from home

From the Courier Post

Bill Kiggins trekked for two hours with a heavy briefcase to meet me a few weeks ago, walking from Haddon Township to the Courier-Post newsroom in Cherry Hill. The 68-year-old shook as he dumped piles of official documents and personal notes documenting his contention he’s being wrongfully evicted by the Haddon Housing Authority.

Kiggins and supporters blame housing authority Executive Director Joseph Iacovino, who they allege is a threatening, underqualified political patron of Haddon Township Mayor Randy Teague.

The words “Iacovino Prison Lies Threats Intimidation Cell 810 Warden = ‘Little Joey The Gopher,’ ” are scattered on a homemade flier Kiggins has read aloud to me several times.

Kiggins is fighting for his life. Today, he’s to be served with an eviction notice, according to a July 26 memo from housing authority attorney Thomas O’Connell. He will be homeless if that eviction is not overturned.

Kiggins greeted me Monday at HUD-subsidized Rohrer Towers 1 in his best outfit: a black pinstriped suit, black tie and an oversized, red button-down shirt. Since 2005, he’s lived in a studio apartment outfitted with a police scanner and several television and computer monitors.

“I have no car, so I can stare at the ceiling or bring the world to me,” said the retired computer worker.

Rohrer residents Nancy Leonard, Flo Thompson and Fran Tedesco, a former housing authority board member, vouch for Kiggins, who has no income beyond Social Security.

He pulls all-nighters working on his eviction case. On Monday, he was amped.

“You need to relax, Bill,” Thompson said. “You get all out of control.”

“Don’t tell me to keep calming down,” Kiggins replied. “This is an opportunity for me to get everything out. If we get publicity, HUD will actually have to come out here.”

Leonard, Thompson and Tedesco charge Kiggins is being evicted because he speaks up and challenges Iacovino’s control, starting at a board meeting last year, when Kiggins complained new tenants should not have first dibs at one-bedroom apartments.

Team Kiggins alleges Iacovino doesn’t know how to use a computer and only shows up to work two hours per day. They claim more Rohrer seniors want Iacovino out also because of restrictions he’s placed since taking office in 2009 but are too fearful to file formal complaints.

Then Kiggins got in my face. “You see what I’m talking about now?” he pushed. “I’m making waves because I got four (O’Connell) letters with all lies in them. They have the right to throw me out, according to (a HUD letter), because they lied to HUD.”

Teague and Iacovino, who makes around $26,500 a year as director, deny Team Kiggins’ allegations. Iacovino says he works about 30 hours a week to fulfill job duties monitored by HUD.

Despite not listing computer skills on his resume, Iacovino says he regularly uses his iPad and computer software. (The March 2009 job posting for his position specifically stated candidates must be computer-literate.) Iacovino’s appointment was approved by the state and HUD.

Iacovino and the abrasive Kiggins concede their relationship has been soured by arguments and harassment charges filed by Kiggins against Iacovino that were later thrown out in court.

No one from the housing authority has filed criminal charges against Kiggins. But Iacovino, O’Connell and housing authority Commissioner Mary Berko refuse to tell me why Kiggins is being evicted. They didn’t point to anything in the authority’s tenant handbook, lease agreement or Admission and Continued Occupancy Plan as grounds for eviction.

In a July 7 notice, O’Connell alleged Kiggins disturbs other residents’ right to quiet, citing the latter for allegedly yelling at Iacovino and his two assistants on June 28, 2010.

O’Connell wrote that he understands Kiggins disagrees with Iacovino’s policy to restrict residents from using a common kitchen. He also accuses Kiggins of audio recording conversations, saying that is disruptive.

The authority’s lease says disturbances can cause evictions.

HUD gives local housing authorities control over policies and procedures. In this case, HUD officials talked with Haddon Housing Authority officials before informing Kiggins on Aug. 24 that his eviction would be legitimate. Yet a Newark Field Office director also wrote his office would continue to investigate Kiggins’ allegations against Iacovino.

Kiggins has the right to be represented by an attorney at a grievance hearing or in court but says he hasn’t found an attorney he can afford, even from Legal Services of New Jersey, which provides civil litigation help to the economically challenged. Legal Services told me Wednesday an attorney who could work with Kiggins is on vacation.

In his office Monday, Iacovino would say only that Kiggins hasn’t followed housing authority procedures for about a year.

“He’s been stalking me following my car when I leave,” Iacovino claims. “All we’re asking is for him to abide by the rules. The board wants him out. I don’t have anything against him personally.

“From a human standpoint, I commiserate with him. We would help him find another home. We’d talk to other authorities.”

Later, Kiggins told me where Iacovino could shove that offer.

“I’m not leaving.”

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2 Responses

  1. I recall there was some controversy when Mr. I. was appointed to his position. At that time it was alleged to be a political appointment.

  2. why is this website hardly ever updated anymore?

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