Ross Amendment Included in Housing Authority Reform Bill Signed into Law

August 6, 2014

Boston – On Wednesday, the Governor signed a bill into law that would increase oversight of public housing authorities. The legislation would strengthen requirements of local housing authorities, increase performance management, and encourage innovation in future housing development. The bill also requires education and training of all housing authority members, increased tenant involvement by ensuring that every board has a tenant member, and would direct each housing authority to publish their contact information online so that they may be easily reached.

“Increasing oversight and transparency in our housing authorities has been a priority of mine, and this bill goes a long way,” said Senator Richard Ross.

An amendment Senator Ross sponsored in the Senate was incorporated into the final version of the bill, which would require the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to approve all contracts exceeding $100,000. In 2011, Former Chelsea Housing Authority Chief Michael McLaughlin was found to be taking advantage of the inspection process and inflating his salary, which prompted legislators to take action. The bill works to improve accessibility and accountability of the public housing system and those in charge.

Two amendments filed by Senator Ross that passed the Senate, did not make it into the final conference committee report. One amendment required housing authorities to give preference to residents of the town and people who had lived in the town for over 25 years and the other would require housing authorities to cross reference applicants alongside the FBI terror watch list.

“While this bill demonstrates great collaboration in our legislature, I was disappointed that two key components of the Senate bill were not in the final conference committee report, especially after such support in the Senate,” said Senator Ross. “I hope that we can revisit these issues in the next session.”

Please contact the office of Senator Ross with any questions or concerns at (617) 722-1555 or Richard.Ross@masenate.gov.

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