AHA logo Issue involves   participation in   design.

UPDATED April 30: The Arlington Housing Authority board at its April meeting heard the executive director’s report about ongoing improvements, heard about upcoming events for tenants, endorsed wage increases for certain staff positions and discussed a memorandum about communication with local tenants.

Even with apparent progress on many fronts reported, that last issue has loomed unfinished since January

AHA Board Chair Brian Connor provided updates about the memo, which has been signed by three out of the four tenant organizations. Board member Nick Mitropoulos and Connor wrote and later revised the document while working with tenant organizations. The holdout, the Menotomy Manor Tenant Association, has until June 1 to sign the memo.

One issue that arose at the meeting was increased communication with tenant organizations regarding design of projects. In the future, the board vows to provide more details to the tenant association presidents so that they can join meetings with architects. 

ANNUAL ELECTION

The Arlington Housing Authority board held its annual elections April 19, and the leaderships remains the same.

Reelected in an unanimous vote without other nominations were Brian Connor, chair; Gaar Talanian, vice chair; and Nick Mitropoulos, treasurer. 

Running the election was the board’s attorney, John Greco, and all five board members were present. 

Process called 'flawed'

Jenn Davidson-Hernandez, Menotomy Manor tenant group president, said the whole process has been “flawed.”

While Connor said that the memo is specifically intended to increase communication between the AHA and the tenant associations, Davidson-Hernandez is not convinced that anything will change for the better. 

“There's nothing holding them accountable when they don't hold up what they're supposed to do according to the regulations,” Davidson-Hernandez said. 

One issue of contention at the meeting was an allotted decoration budget. Board member Fiorella Badilla brought up the fact that, according to the memo, tenant groups were not allowed to spend money on decorations.Connor, however, said that for expenses like that it would be fine, yet Davidson-Hernandez is not convinced that it won’t be an issue later on.

She also said she has reservations about paying via check rather than debit card for expenses, but Connor said that Executive Director Jack Nagle decided to implement that process after getting receipts from residents had become an issue Connor added that it is important to keep track of money considering that it is from the state. 

Connor said he is unsure why the Menotomy group is resisting signing the memo, saying that it does reflect state regulations; the added provisions have to do with notifying residents of meetings to ensure it is an inclusive community accessible to all residents. 

Updates from Nagle

With about 20 people present April 19, Nagle told the board that the fire alarm and sprinkler upgrade at the Hauser Building is nearing completion. The air-source heat pump projects at Winslow Towers and Chestnut Manor are underway, and last month there was an informational meeting at Chestnut Manor regarding the heat pumps. The board heard positive feedback from residents at Chestnut Manor about the completed window project. Board members said that they hope to start the slider-replacement project in the next few years. 

The vertical platform project at the Donnelly House is underway, as is the creative placemaking project at Drake Village. Next month, the window project at Drake Villages will begin, and,once they are completed, the window project at Cusack Terrace will begin. 

The electrical panel upgrades at Chestnut Manor is out to bid. Door projects at Hauser Building are going out to bid next month. 

There are also numerous projects in the planning and design phase, including a project adding snowguards to the life and skills center, a window project at Menotomy Manor, and an electrical panel upgrades and ventilation at the Hauser Building. 

Participating in resources fair

On Sunday, April 30, from noon to 3 p.m., the AHA plans to take part in the Arlington Resources and connections Fair at Town Hall. The event is organized by the diversity office within the Arlington Health and Human Services Department. It is an opportunity for residents, including residents of public housing, to learn about resources regarding food, jobs, housing, mental health, immigrant services and education.

Annual inspections by maintenance and property management are expected to start next month. Chris Partridge, director of maintenance and modernization, has planned an inspection workshop at Menotomy Manor with interested residents to go over the process and answer questions. 

As for staffing updates, the board is still looking to fill the role of director of operations and is in the process of reviewing applications. Annette Thomas, who previously served as property manager, is now the director of leased housing. 

“Obviously, the benefit of having [had] a promotion [from within] is that the individual who was [previously] in that role can still help during the transition period,” Nagle said.

May 8 deadline for Badilla's seat

Board member Fiorella Badilla’s term ends June 30. Local tenant organizations can submit names of candidates to fill that role until May 8. 

The board approved the state Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) wage match v2 acknowledgment form. Part of the board’s yearly agreement with DHCD, the required form is used to prevent fraud. This form means that the authority is completing training -- and Nagle said that it is doing so. It also requires that residents living in state-supported housing submit their Social Security numbers so that the state Department of Revenue can verify that what the residents said they are getting paid matches their record; all such data is protected and classified. The board members voted unanimously to approve. 

Next, the board voted unanimously to approve the personnel policy change that will affect vacation policy for new members as part of a larger process of adding new hires. For current employees, the policy will not change. 

Rich Conlon, the board’s longtime certified public accountant, will continue to serve the AHA for three more years. The board voted unanimously to approve his contract. 

“Obviously, we’re very lucky to have Rich, and I'm excited to continue working with him,” Nagle said. 

Wage rates from the state Office of Labor and Workforce Development were unanimously accepted by the board, per board mandate. The wages are changed each year and take numerous factors into consideration including inflation. Electricians, with the highest wage, soon will be getting $47.38 per hour; maintenance aides will earn $28.07. See rates here >>

10% allocation approved

The board voted unanimously to allow Nagle to allocate up to 10 percent of construction cost toward administrative fees for numerous projects, which basically means that they can request more money from DHCD for reimbursement. 

“It’s definitely very helpful budgetary wise to be able to request compensation for the amount of work our staff put into these projects,” Nagle said at the meeting.

Later, he clarified that this funding would not supplement or increase AHA staff salaries; it would reimburse the AHA's operating budget, which funds these salaries.  

Juniper Electric won the bid for a fire alarm and panel upgrade for Drake Village cottages in the amount of $489,900. The company also has been working on the Hauser Building fire alarm and sprinkler system upgrade, and progress has, according to Nagle, been “excellent.” 

The board also voted to accept a compliance reserve award for $41,500, which will be used for removing asbestos and hazardous materials at the Drake Village cottages. All board members except Jo Anne Preston, who was having temporary technical issues, voted to accept the money. When Preston returned, the board voted unanimously to approve the minutes from the meeting of March 15. 

Doreen Curley of the Winslow Towers Tenant Association updated the board on what is planned for the residents there. The association recently hosted a craft swap at which residents could trade in excess craft supplies for supplies they need, and also a craft night. Coming up, the tenant group expects to host a game night and spring celebration dinner. 

The next AHA meeting is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 17.  


March 20, 2023: Housing authority goes solar, seeks climate grant 

 


This news summary by Renee Abbott, a journalism student at Northeastern University, was published Tuesday, April 25, 2023. It was updated April 30, to add a clarification from Nagle.

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