Tag Archives: Worcester Housing Authority

Gordy parked in A.I. … but first …

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Happy July 4th!

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Here’s Gordon’s column:

Ray Mariano says goodbye to WHA

By Gordon Davis

Raymond Mariano has retired as Executive Director of the Worcester Housing Authority as of July 1, 2016. His retirement is well deserved, although I cannot imagine him not involving himself in some ways in Worcester politics. Are their rumors he is contemplating a run against Mayor Joe Petty?

I have mixed feelings towards Mr. Mariano. I found him to be personable. He was the only elected official who offered his condolences when my father died.

Mr. Mariano has certainly changed Great Brook Valley in many ways which are, for the most part, for the better. There is now a public library there. The façade of the apartment units no longer have the look of a ghetto.

However,  Mr. Mariano has a flaw in his personality: He does not care what others think of him or his actions. He considers constructive criticism to be personal attacks.
The former mayor sees police force as a legitimate tool to gain his goals. Mr. Mariano was never much for logic or persuasion.

While mayor of Worcester in the 1990s Mr. Mariano pushed through a City policy for the use of police officers to arrest students who were not in school. The Worcester School Department actually had Truancy Officers who were teachers or social workers do the same job.

Mr. Mariano would not listen to criticism that arresting children and detaining them in a special truancy center off of Grover Street would traumatize the children and make worse their underlying issues. Mr. Mariano did not listen to WPD Chief Gardella who said his officers did not want to arrest kids for not being in school. The police union complained to the Department of Labor Relations.

In the 2000s WHA Director Mariano imposed a 6 p.m. curfew on all residents of Great Brook Valley. A resident or a guest could be arrested after 6 p.m. Many in the community said that this curfew was unconstitutional and racist. There was a demonstration organized against Mr. Mariano’s curfew.

Before retiring Mr. Mariano has set up a program through which the State can evict people from State subsidized housing for not having a job or going to school. So even if you have an income and you can pay your rent you can be evicted. There are regulations on what “going” to school means. Like with his other actions this program is based on the threat of physical removal or arrest.

Mr. Mariano has argued that this jobs or eviction program is working. The same program in Boston has been a failure in accomplishing its goals. The program in Worcester has only been effect for six months. It will likely also be a failure, given that people in Boston and Worcester are not significantly different.

This so called legacy project might be short lived.

It is well beyond the time to end these programs which have a disparately negative impact on “minority” communities and are enforced by police arrests. It is time to end the School to Prison Pipeline and racism of some City Hall politicians and managers.
I am confident that if and when Mr. Mariano reads this column he will not let it affect him. He will see this column as a personal attack. He will not see it as constructive or a request to reflect on what could be his personality flaw.

It is unlikely Mr. Mariano will pursue his next mission a redeemed individual.

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.

Bummer!

By Rosalie Tirella

It seems I cannot share with you the photo of city councilor at large candidate Peter Kush in his big white rabbit suit. I went through my media library, and while I have a photo of The Count with dad Bronny Kush, the one I wrote about in my last post and have run here, the Peter Kush rabbit pic is gone!!! Oh, no!

What a shame! I think candidate Peter Kush is actually an adult in this picture. He is on stage, looking goofy in his rabbit duds. But not as goofy as he made client Virginia Ryan look. Not as goofy as he made himself look as author of his own anonymous blog, Cow Patch (as in pile of shit) and his dissing Wusta stuff under the pen name The Count.

Peter Kush is just one big, over-grown, spoiled, emotionally stunted child who got his last job through his parents. This little nincompoop is the last thing we need on the Worcester City Council.To behave like a child and then next year turn around and try to run for office, is a joke.

Put this Peter Rabbit back in the hat!

Pater with Peter!  …. Dad Bronny Kush is on left, city councilor wannabe Peter C. Kush is on right.