2017-02-06: Governor Baker Seeks Level Funding of Subsidy
The state budget proposal for fiscal 2018, as announced by the Baker-Polito Administration on January 27, once again includes level funding in operating subsidy. The Local Housing Authority Act of 2014, Chapter 235, includes stringent performance requirements in the Performance Management Review (PMR) program. However, it is acknowledged that, without adequate subsidy to fill the gap between rents averaging $350 a month and the real operating resources needed to manage and maintain the apartments efficiently, PMR benchmarks will be difficult to achieve locally.
Full subsidy is mandated by state law but never funded, either before or after Chapter 235. State subsidy is half that provided annually by HUD to federally-aided public housing administered by the same housing authority. Many urban residents pay extremely low or zero rents, and housing authority budgets are capped without regard for real costs, as documented in the 2008 DHCD “Real Cost of Operating Massachusetts Public Housing” report.
The 2012 Reform Commission on Public Housing strongly recommended increasing operating resources to the levels identified by DHCD in the Real Cost Study. Multiple reforms and innovative programs were authorized but with no money to fund real costs. Subsidy was highest in 2009 at $66.5 million, eight state budget years ago.
MassNAHRO’s request this year of $72 million is supported by both the DHCD Real Cost Study and the report of the Commission on Public Housing. Groups of stakeholders supporting the request include the Building Blocks Coalition and the Mass. Union of Public Housing Tenants. MassNAHRO’s Legislative Day is April 13. Come and be heard.