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Assisting a Public Process: State Public Housing
Massachusetts faces a challenging environment for public housing. One of just four states with both state and federal public housing, Massachusetts’ 45,600 state public housing units are in 242 different housing authorities across the Commonwealth, some managing less than five units.
In early 2012, Governor Deval Patrick appointed a 23-person state-wide commission to develop specific recommendations to improve state public housing with particular emphasis on exploring options for regionalizing, collaborating or otherwise improving day-to-day operations in a resource-starved environment. VIVA staffed the effort, supporting an extensive public process with process design, providing research and guiding consensus with best practices garnered from work with housing authorities across the country.
In July, 2014, the state legislature enacted a state public housing reform bill, drawing on several recommendations in the commission’s report. Subsequently, VIVA has assisted the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development in developing strategies to implement some of the legislation’s key components including Board training, creating a performance-based monitoring process for housing authorities and establishing a program to allow authorities to collaborate in capital planning and maintenance.