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NEW: Gov. Patrick Pushes to Improve Housing Authorities in MA

Thursday, January 10, 2013

 

Governor Deval Patrick revealed today his push to improve the efficiency and financial management of the state's local housing authorities.

The proposed changes will modernize the structure of the housing authority system to ensure the safety net of public housing provides vulnerable families in Massachusetts, including seniors and persons with disabilities.

“This bill will simplify and professionalize our public housing system, improving transparency and accountability,” Patrick said. “We owe the residents and the public no less.”

The legislation in another large-scale change that consolidates the state’s 240 housing authorities into six regional housing authorities in hopes to increase transparency, accountability, performance, efficiency, innovation and cost savings in the state’s public housing system.

The six regional housing authorities will take over ownership, and fiscal and operational management of all public housing in the Commonwealth.

The new system will take effect in July 2014.

The reform is part of a series of reforms the Governor is proposing to make government work better, and is the latest step in the Administration’s efforts to upgrade oversight and management at local housing authorities, and address issues that plague some authorities while also providing another opportunity for municipalities to regionalize certain services.

“This proposal builds on our Administration’s regionalization agenda to increase efficiencies in the delivery of local services, while also addressing the capacity challenges some local housing authorities have had,” said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray. “Housing authorities are an important part of the state’s housing infrastructure, and we need to provide solutions that will improve the effectiveness of these facilities for the long-term.”

The six Regional Housing Authorities (RHAs) will have professional senior leadership and centralize the Information Technology, Human Resources, administrative, accounting, procurement, and regional technical assistance functions -- producing cost savings and increased efficiency to the state and to taxpayers.

“The reforms proposed by Governor Patrick will create significant and lasting benefits for local housing authorities and their residents,” said Aaron Gornstein, the Undersecretary of Housing and Community Development. “We will continue to make a strong commitment to revitalizing state public housing so that we can provide high quality housing for low income residents.”

Under the reformed system, each regional housing authority will consist of one executive director, a governing board, and central and regional management staff and local site managers. Current housing authority staff will have the opportunity to transition to positions within the regional housing authorities.

Through the regional housing authority system, local site managers and maintenance staff will effectively provide for the needs of the property and its residents.

Tenants and communities will find significant increases in operational capacity through the addition of regional staff and centralized back-office operations, including regional property managers, resident service coordinators, capital planning and project management staff and maintenance professionals with work crews. In addition, central staff will include senior managers, finance staff and functions such as human resources, accounting, and application and wait-list operations.

“The way the system is currently being managed is not cost effective,” said Alexa Daily of the Preservation of Affordable Housing, Inc. “The goal reform is transparency, economic efficiency and ultimately improved housing for our residents. As private property management of affordable housing has taught us the cost per unit reduces as the size of the entity increases.” 

 

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