Public Housing Commission for Sustainability and Reform Releases Report and Recommendations
Professionalize management system, preserve local governance and increase oversight and accountability
BOSTON – June 21, 2012 – The Commission for Public Housing Sustainability and Reform, formed by Governor Deval Patrick in January, today released a final report with their findings and recommendations. The recommendations call for a unified property management system that will professionalize public housing’s financial management and increase regional efficiencies while maintaining the role of a local board.
The 60-day Commission, chaired by Undersecretary of Housing and Community Development Aaron Gornstein, was formed in direct response to problems with fraud and mismanagement found at the Chelsea and Medford Housing Authorities. In addition to restructuring, the Commission identified a series of reforms to further increase transparency and accountability within the system, including mandatory annual independent financial audits of local housing authorities, public access to local housing authority staff listings and required board member trainings.
“Public housing is important, and managing it professionally and with integrity is important to the more than 45,000 households who depend on it and to me,” said Governor Patrick. “The Commission has provided us with thoughtful recommendations to both improve service and restore the public’s confidence.”
“The Commission’s work is a critical first step as we move forward with reforming our public housing system,” said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray. “With all of the key stakeholders at the table, the Commission has provided several meaningful recommendations that we will work to implement as quickly as possible.”
To address a backlog of much-need improvements and a lack of sufficient resources, the Commission also recommended seeking additional funding for resident service programs and operating resources for public housing.
"I'm proud to make these recommendations to the Governor and I'm thankful to all of the members of the board who brought their valuable insight to the table," said Undersecretary Gornstein. "These are thoughtful solutions to effectively address a deteriorating public housing portfolio and the loss of public trust in the system."
There are currently 242 independent local housing authorities throughout the Commonwealth. Under the Commission’s recommendations, most small and medium sized housing authorities will be required to participate in this regional system with a centralized back office and regional supervision with technical assistance. Local boards and site staff would be preserved.
The Commission recommends a Public Housing Advisory Committee to further develop and implement the recommendations. The Committee would be open to members of the Commission and other key stakeholders and would begin their work immediately.
Governor Patrick issued Executive Order 539 establishing the Commission in January, along with several administrative reforms to be acted on immediately. The Department of Housing and Community Development has implemented the following reforms to date:
- Required local housing authorities with state public housing to provide DHCD with the top five-salaries of the highest-paid management staff;
- Capped Director compensation at $160,00;
- Required local housing authority board members to certify Executive Director salaries and contracts; and,
- Required local housing authority board members to certify year-end financial statements.
There are 45,600 units of state-aided public housing that provide a crucial affordable housing opportunity to vulnerable families, seniors and people with disabilities.