Northampton Media: “Ward Three Councilor-Elect Angela Plassmann Takes on the Housing Authority”

Today at Northampton Media:

Ward 3 Councilor-Elect Angela Plassmann campaigned on a promise that she would work to solve maintenance and safety problems reported by elderly and disabled tenants at the city-owned Walter Salvo House and Cahill Apartments. In a November 16 letter to Housing Authority Director Jonathan Hite, Plassmann listed tenant concerns and asked Hite for an opportunity to meet.

Here is the text of Plassmann’s letter, to which Hite has yet to respond…

[click to continue reading at Northampton Media]

See also:

Northampton Redoubt: “Affordable Housing with a capital A” (12/6/09)
…some might think we don’t have to be in a rush to build more affordable housing units; that maybe the conversation does not need to focus on the numbers and dollars of building more units but rather on the numbers and dollars of improving what we have. Perhaps city officials should look into the living conditions that exist in these units and look to improve management and maintenance. To forward that idea the Housing Partnership and Housing Authority and/or other agencies could conduct a voluntary anonymous city survey of consumers of lower priced subsidized housing to gather opinion.

These approaches might be helpful because intermingled with Northampton’s recent electoral theater were allegations of discrimination and racism in Northampton Housing Authoritiy holdings as brought forth by Casa Latina, Inc. and raised by Michael Bardsley during a mayoral debate. Public housing conditions also surfaced in the Ward One race between Maureen Carney and Andrew Vidal-McNair where issues of poor maintenance, racism and classism bobbed about mouth-to-ear and online concerning the candidates’ alleged views on lower priced subsidized housing. Moreover, Angela Plassmann, Northampton’s Ward 3 Councilor Elect, made visiting the government subsidized Walter Salvo House at 81 Conz Street a priority during her campaign and is holding her first office hours there Saturday, December 12 from 10 am – 1 pm. At this meeting perhaps people who dwell in this type of housing might discuss the environment they live in. What do they like? What would they change?

Video: Committee on Public Safety, 11/10/09; Meadowbrook Firefighting Questioned and Defended
The owner of Meadowbrook, Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH), was…criticized by citizens for the state of the electrical wiring on the site, numerous false fire alarms and lack of responsiveness to complaints.

The Committee on Public Safety expressed satisfaction with the Fire Department’s performance but plans to inquire with POAH as to conditions at the complex.

Northampton Media: “Plassmann v Reckman” (10/20/09)
Plassman spoke of problems at the Walter Salvo House, a medium-rise public housing project. Reckman countered that such housing problems are beyond the purview of the council.

Mike Kirby: “The Meadowbrook Chronicles Part One” (6/21/08)
For some time, a number of tenants and former tenants of Meadowbrook have been after me to write something about the housing complex and the agency that runs it. As you may remember, a 2004 agreement preserved the development as affordable. Brokered by the Mayor, this deal sold the development to the Boston-based nonprofit, Preservation of Affordable Housing, LLC (POAH). I was given a couple hundred pages from their tenant union archives, and bundles of documents relating to the complex. The stories in this paperwork were disturbing and depressing…the 2005 flood of sewage that forced the evacuation of many residents, the tenant union folding under attack, and complaints about living conditions, drug dealing and other matters falling on seemingly deaf ears. “Agency’s Tenants and Apartments: Out of Sight, Out of Mind, Out of Kilter” (6/19/04)
The 1999 report indicates that the inspector looked at 48 NHA units. Out of these, 77 percent of the units failed to pass inspection; 112 out of 122 defects cited were “maintenance related.” In other words, 91 percent of the defects were not due to tenant sloppiness or carelessness. Breaking them down by complex, Hampshire Heights apartments were in the worst shape by far. Six out of the seven apartments inspected had items classified as emergency items requiring a fix within 24 hours. Apartment 1A was deemed not fit for human habitation. Since then the Authority has replaced the roofs and is completing a bathroom and kitchen renovation. Apartments in the newer complexes, Salvo House and Tobin Manor were in relatively good shape; there were more defects and problems with Forsander and Cahill. All the Cahill apartments inspected had problems with the venting system for the bathrooms, and to date, to my knowledge, the venting system has not been overhauled, just cleaned.

The Authority has a problem with preventative and regular maintenance.