“Many of these housing authorities function well, are deeply connected to local housing needs and responsive to their tenants. Some are not. A number of recent incidents have exposed a need for more transparency and accountability, better performance and greater efficiency. So today I am filing legislation that will modernize, simplify and professionalize the commonwealth’s public housing system,” Patrick said.
Patrick was joined at a press conference to announce his plan by two local housing commissioners, including Newton Housing Authority Commissioner Jeffrey Sacks and Jim Stockard of Cambridge, one of the two housing authorities not represented by the NAHRO.
Rep. Stephen DiNatale (D-Fitchburg) and Rep. Russell Holmes (D-Boston) also attended the press conference to show their support for Patrick’s proposal.
“I am pleased to see we’re at least going to see a dialogue begin in the Legislature. I hope we do. That’s my hope, because I think it’s long overdue,” DiNatale said.
Holmes served on the governor’s Commission on Public Housing, Sustainability and Reform, and said the members struggled with the question of the optimal size of a housing authority. He said the commission’s rejection of a regionalization plan as dramatic as the one Patrick put forward reflected an effort to compromise with a range of interest groups.
“This is a much bolder approach. We were trying to stay less controversial,” Holmes said.
Holmes said it would be a “tough sell” to his colleagues in the Legislature, but predicted the final reform would look close to what Patrick proposed.
“This here says, ‘Look, if we’re going to go out and look to revamp the system and really run it as a business let’s just do it with the whole system and that’s why I’m standing here in support,” Holmes said.