For Immediate Release - December 07, 2012

Patrick-Murray Administration Announces Award of Capital Funds to Turnover Vacant Public Housing Units

New policy will withhold state subsidy to housing authorities with units vacant for more than 60 days

BOSTON – Thursday, December 6, 2012 – Continuing the effort to increase the number of affordable public housing units available to families, the Department of Housing and Community Development announced today $2.2 million in funding to 33 local housing authorities to assist in the cost of re-occupying vacant, state-funded public housing units.

The capital funding will be used to support repairs required to get a currently unused unit fixed and returned to a housing authority’s stock of available units. The funding is anticipated to bring back on line approximately 200 units, roughly the same as a similar effort last year.

“Affordable public housing is in high demand across the state,” said Undersecretary of Housing and Community Development Aaron Gornstein. “These additional funds dedicated to turnover costs will provide local housing authorities with new tools and funding to more quickly house seniors and families looking for affordable housing.”
As part of the agreement for receiving this funding, the local housing authorities must have the unit repaired and reoccupied by March 31, 2013, have units that have been vacant for more than 60 days and the units must have required capital repairs with cost estimates between $2,500 and $25,000. The payment covers the entire cost of the repairs, and is paid on a reimbursement basis for units that have been repaired and re-occupied.

Also, beginning January 1, 2013, the Department of Housing and Community Development will be instituting a new vacancy policy for local housing authorities. Under the new policy, state subsidy will be withheld from local housing authorities for units vacant for more than 60 days. DHCD will be providing additional support and technical assistance to LHAs that face legitimate roadblocks to timely re-occupancy.

Since 2008, the Patrick-Murray Administration has taken action to protect and strengthen the safety net that state-aided public housing’s 45,600 units provides for our state’s most vulnerable families, senior and people with disabilities. This vacant turnover initiative is one part of a broader strategy being implemented to reform the state’s public housing system. Other reforms have included requiring local housing authorities to provide DHCD with the salaries of the five highest-paid management staff and setting a maximum salary for local housing authority executive directors.

Currently there are approximately 1,734 vacant state-aided public housing units in Massachusetts, the majority of which are in various stages of turnover for re-occupancy. Less than 5 percent of total state-aided public housing units in the Commonwealth are vacant.