By Bob Katzen

The Housing Committee held a hearing on a bill that would put some teeth into a 2014 law that requires all town housing authorities to have a tenant on the board. The regulations for appointing a tenant were never drafted. The Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) said that when they went to draft these regulations in 2016, the elections division of the Secretary of State’s office raised some concerns about DHCD promulgating these regulations and the regulations were never drafted. The pending bill sets out the requirements of the tenant appointment process.

The regulations require that tenant members be appointed by the Board of Selectmen from a list submitted by a recognized tenants’ organization in the town. The selectmen will select one person from this list and appoint him or her to the board. Failure to file the list within 60 days after a vacancy gives the town the power to appoint any tenant it chooses. If there is no tenants’ organization, the housing authority must notify tenants living in eligible households and provide them with instructions on how to submit their name to the town clerk for consideration by the Board of Selectmen.

“This bill represents the conclusion of two years of discussions among various stakeholders in the housing world,” said the bill’s sponsor Rep. Kevin Honan (D-Boston). “It is crucial for tenants to have a voice on their local housing authority boards, and we are pleased to see so many towns already have a tenant representative. It is our hope [the bill] will provide all towns with much-needed guidance to be able to comply with previously enacted state law. ”

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