Governor's Proposal All But Abolishes Local Housing Authority. What Do You Think?
Doing away with local housing boards is Gov. Patrick's idea for slashing public housing cost and corruption. Do you think that's a good idea?
The North Andover Housing Authority, one of 240 public housing authorities across Massachusetts, would all but vanish as part of a proposal from Gov. Deval Patrick to streamline public housing management operations.
The purpose of local housing authorities is to manage and maintain subsidized housing and, often, to advocate for affordable housing for lower-income residents.
The administration reportedly estimates the consolidation would save more than $10 million a year in salaries and administrative costs.
According to the Boston Globe, while Gov. Patrick's proposal would centralize public housing management into six regional offices, a small number of managers and maintenance workers would remain at local housing authorities.
And, says the Globe, cutting local boards would would do away with the need for more than 1,000 politically appointed commissioners.
A press release from the governor's says this about local input:
Underscoring the critical role that local communities play in supporting public housing, the legislation allows communities to retain control over land use and significant redevelopment decisions including change of use, ownership or the financing structure of an existing building or vacant land. RHAs will also be required to seek local input into an annual plan that outlines projected capital and operating expenditures and tenant participation activities.
The consolidation move comes in the wake of troubling corruption scandals uncovered by the Globe, which were partly possible because holding hundreds of separate housing authorities accountable is a management challenge.
State Sen. Bruce Tarr offered mixed praise for the governor's proposal.
"Clearly, stronger safeguards are needed to protect taxpayer dollars, and to ensure that those dollars are used efficiently and effectively to rehabilitate and maintain our deteriorating public housing infrastructure," Tarr said in a statement Thursday. "A significant question remains, however, as to whether replacing our current system of local housing authorities with larger, centralized bureaucracies represents the best approach to achieving increased efficiencies and needed accountability. Recent systemic failures involving the Sex Offender Registry Board, the state drug evidence testing lab and the oversight of compounding pharmacies prove that large bureaucracies do not guarantee effectiveness, efficiency or safety."
What we know so far of the governor's proposal sounds like a move toward more accountable, efficient government. But would it also mean less local say and control over public housing in North Andover? Does that matter to you? What could and should change if control is transferred to regional offices?