Governor Deval Patrick's Budget Recommendation - House 1 Fiscal Year 2014

Public Housing Reform

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Governor Patrick    FY 2014 Budget Recommendation:
    Issues in Brief

    Deval L. Patrick, Governor
    Timothy P. Murray, Lt. Governor


The Patrick-Murray Administration FY 2014 budget reforms the state’s public housing system in order to strengthen oversight, streamline operations, and leverage innovation and best practice.  Governor Patrick has filed legislation that will professionalize the operations and financial management of the Commonwealth’s Local Housing Authorities (LHAs) by consolidating the 240 LHAs into 6 Regional Housing Authorities (RHAs).  Through these reforms, the Administration estimates it could save over $10 M a year in administrative costs that could be redirected back into the housing.

Current State of Public Housing

There are 240 local housing authorities in Massachusetts that own and manage roughly 80,000 public housing units, of which 45,600 are state-funded.  This public housing is the largest source of affordable housing for extremely low-income residents across the state.  Many of the units are more than 60 years old, and the majority of housing authorities operate at a very small scale with fewer than 250 units.  The combination of age and a lack of investment by prior Administrations, coupled with an inefficient and antiquated delivery system that dates back to the 1940’s, has left much of the portfolio distressed and vulnerable.

While significant gains have been made to improve and preserve state-aided public housing under the leadership of the Patrick-Murray Administration, the fiscal and operational viability of the housing and the integrity of the public housing system still face significant difficulties.  Most recently, the Administration has taken swift and aggressive action by implementing administrative reforms and launching the Commission for Public Housing Sustainability and Reform to recommend strategies to bring stronger governance, more effective operations, greater efficiencies in public expenditures and increased accountability and transparency to the state public housing system.

Title: Local Housing Authorities - Total State and Federal Public Housing Units - Description: This picture is a map of the commonwealth showing the total number of state and federal public housing units per housing authority in each city and town.

However, further action is needed to increase transparency, accountability, performance, efficiency, innovation, and cost savings in the state’s public housing system. 

Regionalization of Public Housing Management

Under the legislation to consolidate 240 LHAs into 6 RHAs, the RHAs will take over ownership of all public housing assets (land, buildings, equipment) and assume responsibility for fiscal and operational management of all state and federal public housing in the particular region.  The six RHAs will each consist of one Executive Director, a Governing Board appointed by the Governor, regional management staff, and local site managers. Daily operations affecting tenants will continue to be addressed by local staff, while more complex property management responsibilities will benefit from centralized expertise and experienced oversight. Local site staff will be among the most important in the system and provide the important “local touch” that is essential to successful property management.

The legislation allows communities to retain control over land use and significant redevelopment decisions including change of use, ownership, or the financing structure of an existing building or vacant land.  RHAs will also seek local input into an annual plan that outlines projected capital and operating expenditures and tenant participation activities. 

This consolidated system will produce efficiency and save the state millions of dollars by regionalizing key operational functions of public housing authorities, including:

  • Consolidating general administration functions including accounts payable, procurement, and human resource management;
  • Regionalizing capital project management practices, including regional collaborations to purchase expertise, materials, equipment, and services to maintain units;
  • Achieve utility savings through combined rate negotiation, bulk purchasing, and improved energy conservation through central expertise and best practice; and
  • Enhancing technical assistance to maintenance staff to increase the quality and efficiency of their work.

As the Administration continues to invest in public housing, it is imperative that the delivery system be modernized in order to increase the efficiency and transparency of LHAs and to ensure that we are meeting the goal of high-quality housing for low-income households.

Prepared by map needs alt text, Executive Office for Administration and Finance ·
For more information email: (617) 727-2040

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