Tag Archives: public housing

Hooray for Ray (Mariano)!

By Edith Morgan

The times are always changing, and what was a great solution to a social problem several decades ago is no longer working as it once did: public housing.

The idea of affordable public housing worked so well to house returning World War II veterans and their families. Worcester vets and their families called our Great Brook Valley the first rung up the American ladder of upward mobility.

That has all changed. It has run its course and public housing needs to be something else, something more, as the population to be served has changed. Economic conditions, immigration, age of those in need of housing, more persons with disabilities living on their own, and the difficulty of getting jobs and keeping homes after the disastrous crash in 2008 which deprived many young (and not so young) families of their homes – all these factors changed the clientele of public housing. These changes require a new set of rules.

But established bureaucracies are not known for their flexibility, nor for their ability to change to meet new conditions.

So it was that it took a long time to become aware that many among  our current public housing residents did not share the same values held formerly by most of us. Worcester Housing Authority Executive Director Raymond Mariano is fond of telling us his own family started out in Great Brook Valley and worked their way up and out – as was expected in those days. And while my family never lived in public housing in the U.S., when we came to America, I remember my mother saying she never wanted to be on welfare ever again.

Unfortunately, in the recent decades, we have seen a growing number of residents in public housing  make little or no effort to take advantage of the opportunities offered by education, work, or good money-management techniques.

It is this group that Ray Mariano wants to help, with his “Better Life” program. The elderly and the disabled will still be eligible for public housing for as long as they need it, but those who can finish school, acquire training and become self-sufficient will be offered a path to eventual integration into the larger society to become PRODUCTIVE AMERICANS.

This week, finally, after a disappointing setback,  at a ceremony attended by state officials who lauded his ideas, Mariano got the go-ahead and will be able to implement his back to work/school program for nearly 400 Great Brook Valley families who should profit from this program.

The program’s requirements are not overwhelming: One adult in each of the targeted households will have to work and/ or go to school for a total of 1,200 hours per year, or about 23 hours  per week. There will be many kinds of support services available,  and “anyone who is making the effort will stay,” according to Mariano.

Of course, refusal to meet these standards will result in “lease enforcement.” (A nice way to say eviction.)

There is still no time limit for GBV residents, but this program should be a good step toward solving the problem of multi-generational residency in public housing. It will also satisfy those folks who remember that public housing, which is still a great idea, was never intended to last for generations but was meant to extend a helping hand to those who were struggling, new or had suffered some great setback.

I can not agree that “public housing has been a great failure.” It continues to provide so many people with a safe, affordable  roof over their heads, as they get on their feet and face a tough world. Let us not throw the baby out with the bath water …

What is really going on with the Worcester Housing Authority?

By Gordon T. Davis

The Worcester Housing Authority (WHA) policy makers are misguided. This might be caused by the driven personality of Mr. Mariano who cannot seem to see any side of an argument except his own. He and some in the media cover up this personality flaw with the façade that he is “motivating” the lazy. The reality is that to a significant extent the WHA policy of limiting tenancy is a libel and slander against the poor, women with children, and people with dark skin.

I don’t dislike Mr. Mariano. He is quite personable and considerate. In 1997 when my Dad passed, he was the only public official to call me and offer his condolences. I do not doubt his sincerity. However, I have doubts about his policies.

His policy to limit the tenancy of some people living in WHA apartments is unprecedented and therefore unsupported by any evidence, no statistics, and not even anecdotal hearsay. The limitation of tenancy policy is based entirely on the false assumption that people receiving benefits are somehow not “motivated.”

There should have been additional discussion on the issue other than the uncommented upon “annual review” at Housing and Urban development (HUD). HUD correctly stated that it had no authority to limit tenancy without cause.

Bashing HUD and libeling the tenants are attempts to cover up the lack of objectivity of Mr. Mariano’s policy.  Nothing less could be expected from some in the media; the apologies made for Mr. Mariano by others came as a surprise. I suppose they see him to be sincere, albeit a view that makes objectivity more difficult.

The appropriate way to change HUD policy is through the due process seen in laws made in Congress and interpreted by HUD..  The Congress could limit tenancy after a review of the facts. However to bureaucratically enact limits on tenancy without due process and public discussion is not how democratically thing should be done.

I suggest that Mr. Mariano take a look at his own agency before trying to make national laws.  There is so much to fix there and it might require more of Mr. Mariano’s attention than he has given it.

Recently, I defended a client at a Grievance Hearing at the WHA.  The WHA did not follow or even know some of the rules of HUD.  It confused a Grievance Hearing with an Eviction Hearing.  The Chair of the Grievance Panel would not identify himself nor would the WHA reveal his relationship to the WHA. The WHA refused to provide documents about the case even though HUD rules compelled it to do so. The people at WHA were rude and hostile.

I guess that they were more interested in bullying the poor and people ignorant of their rights than in due process. I offer my best wishes to Mr. Mariano and hope he gets it right.

Increase affordable housing! Call in to the governor!

 

Increase Affordable Housing  

Call-in Day to the Governor  

Wednesday, December 14th

 

Too many people are struggling to afford the high cost of housing in Massachusetts.  Let’s work together to advocate for more affordable housing. 

On Wednesday, December 14th, the Building Blocks Coalition is asking that you take 1 minute and make an important phone call.  Please call Governor Patrick @ 1-617-725-4005, introduce yourself, and send a simple message:

 

“I am calling to ask the Governor to increase funding for affordable housing in the FY2013 budget. Working families, seniors, and persons with disabilities all need affordable housing to be healthy and productive, and for children to be able to learn.  Thank you for your support.”

   

About Building Blocks:

 

The Building Blocks Coalition is a group of Massachusetts organizations that work together to advocate for funding for affordable housing and homelessness prevention, including CHAPA, Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance, Massachusetts NAHRO, Massachusetts Union of Public Housing Tenants, Massachusetts Association for Community Action, Inc., Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance,  One Family, the Regional Housing Network of Massachusetts, Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, Homes for Families, the Boston Center for Independent Living, Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations and the Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership.                 

 

Click HERE to learn more about Building Blocks FY2013 affordable housing and homelessness prevention priorities.