Housing Authority Board Says Yes to ARPA $$$


Above,  1000 Central Park Terrace, where the Housing Authority Board holds its monthly meeting.

The Board of the Franklin Housing Authority met Monday at 4:30 at the community room at Central Park Terrace. The easiest action taken was not the routine approval of minutes from the prior meeting that came at the start of the meeting, but the action taken about 20 minutes later to formally accept an ARPA Award through the Commonwealth in the amount of $226,749. There was no debate and all present were, unsurprisingly, in favor.

Rolling back to the start of the meeting, the board reviewed accounts payable for December 2022 that totaled $112,563.88. This expenditure was approved.

The Housing Authority Capital One charges for December 2020 totaled $2,165.63. This expenditure was also approved.

The highlights of the report from director Lisa Audette, included:

  • Upcoming NARAL training/certification program for interested board members.
  • In response to a tenant request to address the Housing Authority Board at the December meeting, director Audette researched the legal basis for doing so. She reported that although the authority encourages the public to attend meetings, participation or comment isn’t allowed during the meeting under existing bylaws. Audette noted that state legal advice recommended not changing any existing policies in this regard due to a case currently before the Supreme Judicial Court, the outcome of which could change the legal landscape for public meetings.
  • Regarding grievances, Audette noted that there is a multistep process within the administration of the housing authority at some stages of which, the Housing Authority Board could weigh in. However, she noted, members who have consulted with a tenant having a complaint would need to recuse themselves. Ultimate, final resolution of disputes rests with the state, she said.
  • The grievance is initiated when a tenant completes a form. Audette estimated there had been about five grievances filed during her time as director.
  • Audette also reported that the housing waiting list is up to 11,177, with about 350 of those being local residents.
  • The Board approved the Director’s report.

Later in the meeting Audette discussed a policy she plans to put in place regarding acceptable behavior for tenants, Housing Authority employees, and contractors. She said there had been increase in obscene or even threatening language exhibited toward her employees since the pandemic and she sought to establish clearer guidelines as well as for when employees can or should call for help from the police. She also noted that the use of terms like “honey” to or from tenants, while sometimes innocent, could be considered demeaning and will not be permitted going forward.

The board concurred in this new policy.

At the end of the meeting, as happened at the end of the December meeting, a tenant wished to express a concern and acknowledged that Audette’s comments at the start of the meeting would seem to make that impossible. After a brief discussion, it was agreed that he could, indeed, not comment and though he might talk to a board member later, that member would need to recuse himself on the matter at issue in the future...

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