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The lack of state funding for housing authorities highlighted the Arlington Housing Authority board meeting May 18.

Board member Jo Anne Preston pointed to a Boston Globe news story from the day before about the need for housing-authorities funding in Massachusetts. She complimented Executive Director Jack Nagle for his hard work finding and securing grants for projects in the properties but said that, ultimately, if the authority had a bigger budget, projects could be completed faster and that it is the state’s responsibility to provide them with ample funds.

“We do not have enough money in the operating budget to repair and maintain our buildings,” she said.

She cited an example in which the authority got half the money it needed to repair a leaking roof in a senior residence. “You can’t put on half a roof,” Preston said.

She noted that an amendment has been added to increase the operating budget for all state public housing. The state organization for housing authorities has asked that all local housing authority board members write to their state senators seeking support for the amendment.

The Globe reported May 17: "Conditions have become so deplorable that housing authority leaders and advocates are campaigning the Legislature and Governor Maura Healey for a whopping $9 billion in the new state budget for the next fiscal year and in a bond bill for housing to bring the units into acceptable condition. So far in the annual budgeting season, the state Senate has proposed $107 million for yearly operating costs of the state’s more than 240 local housing authorities, roughly $70 million short of what public housing leaders say is needed."

Background about authority budgets

Preston explained May 22 that the governor's budget allows only level funding for the operating budgets for public housing, despite inflation and aging buildings.

She wrote that the House and the Senate voted some modest increases deemed inadequate by public housing authorities, by the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, which is working for a much larger budget for public housing, and by the Massachusetts chapter of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Organization (NAHRO). That group has asked board members of local housing authorities to contact their senators and ask them to support Sen. Liz Miranda's amendment No. 195, which asks for a significant increase in the state housing authorities operating budgets.

As to the Hauser roof project in Arlington, Preston wrote May 22: "The Arlington Housing Authority asked for $200,000 to replace the 37-year-old roof on the Hauser Building senior residence, which had begun leaking. Because of a lack of funds to cover all the submitted applications, this request and others were initially denied by the CPA Committee. At the end of the CPAC meeting, the chair found there was a surplus of around $200,000."

Preston wrote that she asked that it be given to the AHA roof project. Several members wanted the money to be added to the amount already given to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Finally, the amount was divided between the roof project and the trust fund, with each receiving $120,000, she wrote.

Since then, she explained, AHA has receivedfunds from other sources for the roof project -- but that may not not be enough given the increases in costs for materials and labor.

AHA project updates

The AHA board also discussed updates to projects and funding. Twenty-four people attended the Zoom meeting; everyone on the board except for Chair Brian Connor attended.

Nagle gave project updates during the executive director’s report. 

The window-replacement panel at Chestnut Manor is completed; the next stage is adding sliding doors. Meanwhile, window replacements at Drake Village Cottages and at Cusack Terrace are due to start in the coming weeks, depending on when the contractor can secure labor and materials. 

Numerous projects are underway, including the creative placemaking project, the weatherization project at Menotomy Manor and the air-source heat pump project at Winslow Towers and Chestnut Manor.

Replacing Federal Pacific electrical panels and updating fire alarms at Drake cottages are to begin in a few weeks. The door project at the cottages and the roof project at the Hauser Building are due to be out to bid in the next two to three weeks. 

The project to add snowguards to the life and skill center is in the planning and design phase, as is the electric-panel project at the Hauser Building. 

April 30 fair, other events

On April 30, the AHA participated at the Arlington Resources and Connections Fair at Town Hall and helped inform Arlington residents about their services. Nagle called it a great event and he is looking forward to participating again next year. 

The annual senior cookout is to occur during the first two weeks of June, and National Night Out, an annual event promoting relationships between the police department and the community, is set to occur Aug. 1. 

Nagle told the board about a recent visit to the Ottoson Middle School, during which he and AHA Resident Services Coordinator Tricia Horgan spoke to students. 

“The kids were pretty impressive with the well-thought-out questions they had, and we look forward to hopefully having additional opportunities to engage with the community moving forward,” Nagle said. 

Manor inspection

Chris Patridge, the director of maintenance and modernization, recently held an inspection workshop at Menotomy Manor before completing the inspection.

Magnets with the phone numbers of the AHA and maintenance were placed on refrigerators after the inspections were complete to make it easier for residents to report any issues in a timely manner. 

Annual inspection at the senior development is to begin next month. The AHA has hired Yusef Mohamed as the new property manager for Winslow, Chestnut and Cusack.

Interviews for the director for operations will begin next in few weeks, the board wastold, and the residents services coordinator position is open.

Badilla's term to end

The Select Board is contacting nominated tenants for the tenant seat on the board, as Fiorella Badilla’s term will be up at the end of June. 

Nagle provided an update about the $21,700 grant agreement with Local Initiatives support corporation (LISC) and told the board that conversations are ongoing. The funding would go toward the Menotomy Manor deep energy retrofit study, and Nagle hopes to provide another update or have the board vote on the funding in the coming meetings. 

The board voted unanimously to recognize the Winslow Towers and Cusack Terrace tenant associations, both of which provided their budgets and plans for the upcoming year. Nagle told the board that the process for the recognition of the Drake Village Tenant Association has been delayed, as the tenant president has had health issues; he hopes to continue to work with them and provide an update next month.

There was no discussion of the Mentomy Manor tenant association and their refusal to sign a memorandum of understanding and no public comment from people representing the organization. 

Six proposed change-order requests related to the creative-placemaking project, the Drake Village cottages and the Hauser Building were approved by the board unanimously. 

The new sliding doors at Chestnut Manor will be replaced, supported by Action for Boston Community Development Inc. The board voted unanimously to move forward with the project, as it will be a “great benefit” to residents, according to Nagle. 

Rental-voucher program OK'd

The board voted unanimously to approve the contract for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP), which means that the board can continue with that program for a few more years. MRVP is a state housing program that differs from Section 8, because it has a separate waitlist, and the rules to move up the list are more similar to those of state public housing. The board has eight vouchers with MRVP and has seen a recent increase in interest. 

After analyzing water and energy use, the board noticed a lot of water use at a few developments, including Menotomy Manor and Winslow Towers. The board unanimously approved an application to the DHCD for funding to replace toilets at every building. The toilet replacements aim to help reduce water use and save money on the operating and utility budget. 

Juniper Electric won the bid for the Chestnut Manor panel-replacement project in the amount of $462,896. The company is in the process of completing work on the Hauser Building fire alarm and sprinkler system project, and it won the bid for the Drake Village cottages fire alarm and panel upgrade last month. After a question from board Vice Chair Gaar Talanian, Nagle clarified that 18 of the units got new panels following the fatal fire in January 2022; those are not expected to be updated again, but the rest of the units will be.

The board unanimously granted Nagle approval to submit an application for the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources' low- and moderate-income housing decarbonization grant. The application will allow the board to apply to three separate funding sources simultaneously, all related to sustainability, energy efficiency and carbon neutrality. Nagle hopes that the funding can be used for the Menotomy Manor deep energy retrofit project. The project would be one of the first of its kind in Massachusetts.

Meeting minutes for the election and the regular meeting on April 19 were approved unanimously. 

Events at Winslow

Doreen Curley, representative of the Winslow Tower Tenant Association, updated the board about recent events at Winslow. There will be an upcoming bake sale and pizza party, and its spring celebration was held May 17. During the event, attendees participated in a raffle, which raised more than $190 to go toward events and needs in the building. 

There were no comments from the general public. 

The meeting was adjourned at 7:43 p.m.; the board is scheduled to meet next at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 21.

April 25, 2023: AHA board seeks improved communication, as Menotomy tenants decline to sign 


This news summary by YourArlington freelance writer Renee Abbott, a journalism student at Northeastern University, was published Monday, May 22, 2023..

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