, Salem, MA


January 16, 2013

Our view: Time for change in housing system


Ipswich housing officials said they didn’t have enough money to fix the apartments, so they’d just left them empty. That shouldn’t happen under a regional system, where maintenance funds and maintenance workers could be used more efficiently, wherever they’re needed, and small housing authorities wouldn’t have to compete against each other for grants.

The reforms would also eliminate the cost of pay for individual board members at hundreds of housing authorities. In Salem, for example, the five board members took home about $3,000 apiece in 2011. (The stipends vary by community; some are higher and some communities don’t pay their board members at all.) It could be a significant savings when factored on a statewide basis.

And the reforms would allow tenants to apply for housing once — not at different agencies all over the state.

We beg to differ with those who say local control is better. Regional control is more efficient, and local control has in fact proven to lead to a number of problems. That’s not an indictment of the many local housing workers who are honest and hardworking, and who do good work every day.

But taxpayers deserve more accountability than they’re getting from the current system, and it’s well past time for reforms.

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