MA Lawmakers Hear from Public Housing Specialists

Massachusetts lawmakers gathered in Springfield today collecting testimony on ways to overhaul public housing. Earlier this year, Governor Deval Patrick filed legislation that would consolidate the state’s 240 local housing authorities into six regional authorities. Tom Connelly is head of Massachusetts’ chapter of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials. With such tight housing budget, Connelly agrees some level of consolidation is necessary.

“We are not resistant to this concept. In fact, there are already 35 local housing authorities who voluntarily have gotten together and joined forces to serve residents in a more effective manner.”

Connelly supports an alternative bill that would require small housing authorities to collaborate with larger authorities if they’re under-performing. Chair of the Amherst Housing Authority, Connie Kruger told lawmakers she isn’t satisfied with either plan.

“Local is not always better. Centralization or regionalization is also not always better. “

Kruger wants the governor and opponents of his bill to come up with a compromise that would allow local housing agencies the chance to creatively share their staff and housing stock. Two more hearings on the issue are scheduled for mid-September.