After over two years of drafting, deliberations, public hearings, LHA site visits and several very different legislative drafts, the long debated Local Housing Authority Act of 2014 was signed into law by Governor Deval L. Patrick on Wednesday, August 6. The bill includes sweeping changes to the oversight, governance, and operation of local housing authorities, but also provides innovative strategies designed to assist authorities with capital improvements, purchasing, unit turn over, wait list management and interagency collaborations.
It was in August of 2012 that the MassNAHRO Reform Task Force first met in response to the Report of the Governor’s Commission on Public Housing. Numerous meetings were held around the state, including those with the Regional Executive Director Associations, the Commonwealth Housing Task Force Public Housing Committee, Massachusetts Housing Authority Maintenance Supervisors (MAHAMS), and the Mass. Union of Public Housing Tenants, all of which became partners with MassNAHRO. The result was Senate 612 and House 1094, co-sponsored by 81 Senators and Representatives. After three public hearings and seven site visits, the Joint Committee on Housing, Chaired by Senator Jamie Eldridge of Acton, and Representative Kevin Honan of Brighton/Allston, drafted a thoughtful, substantive bill in June that garnered support remarkably from all stakeholders, advocates, observers, policy wonks and others.
House 4211 was released on June 18. It was not the MassNAHRO bill nor the Patrick bill, House 44, but a new amalgam of many elements. After a few alterations and floor amendments, it was passed unanimously by the Massachusetts Legislature on July 30 and 31. The bill is the most comprehensive change to the state public housing program in over forty years. It is a blueprint for the future, and preserves LHAs as the primary providers of low rent housing assistance to local seniors, economically challenged families and the disabled.
MassNAHRO extends our sincere appreciation to all our members, LHA staff, residents, LHA Board Members and other local officials for reaching out to preserve local governance through their staunch advocacy. Special thanks go to the Joint Committee on Housing; Senator Eldridge; Representative Honan; Representative John Binienda, the lead sponsor of H1094; and Senator Marc Pacheco, our Public Housing Advocate of the Year and Sponsor of S612. It must be noted that the professional staff of the Joint Committee on Housing worked hard to draft legislation beneficial to local officials and their residents. There is much in the bill that requires additional input specifically from representatives of local housing authorities, municipal officials, and MassNAHRO as the public housing industry’s professional organization.