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Lowell Housing Authority 5th Annual PHA Plan for FY 2015

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Dear Stakeholder...

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Dear Stakeholder,

 In a major step forward, the HUD Boston office has just notified me that they have officially closed its files on five more of the recommendations made by the HUD Inspector General. This means we have developed and implemented new procedures that satisfied the HUD Inspector General’s Office. The five issues that have been addressed and closed are:

  1. Develop policies and procedures to adequately plan force account activities.
  2. Establish and implement policies and procedures to properly schedule force account activities.
  3. Establish procedures to ensure that adequate records for modernization are maintained.
  4. Strengthen monitoring controls over construction projects to ensure the quality and progress of modernization work.
  5. Develop and implement a change order policy in accordance with Federal procurement.

 I am enthusiastic that our Executive team and Board of Commissioners are successfully and methodically satisfying HUD’s concerns. We are on pace to have final resolution by July 31st 2014.I will also continue addressing the concerns of all LHA stakeholders and look forward to regaining your confidence.

On the behalf of the Board of Commissioners, LHA Audit Response Team (ART) and the entire LHA staff, I want to again publicly emphasize our commitment to maintaining safe, secure, dignified homes for all of our residents.  We will continue to monitor and improve efficiencies in our operations. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can address any concerns or in any other way be of assistance.

Yours Truly,

Gary Wallace

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Lowell Housing Authority Goes Smoke-Free May 1, 2014

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Lowell Housing Authority Goes Smoke-Free May 1, 2014

 

As of May 1, 2014, Lowell Housing Authority is adopting smoke-free policies to protect residents in their units from secondhand smoke. Because smoke drifts between units and cannot be contained, the only fail-proof solution to the problem of secondhand smoke is for buildings to go entirely smoke-free.

 

According to the Surgeon General, there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. By going smoke-free, residents of Lowell Housing Authority will be less likely to suffer from the effects of secondhand smoke, which include acute respiratory infections, ear problems, asthma, heart attacks, and certain cancers.

 

With its new rule, the Lowell Housing Authority joins the growing number of public and private multi-unit housing properties throughout Massachusetts with smoke-free policies, a positive trend that protects residents from the serious health effects of breathing secondhand smoke.

 

Under the Smoke-Free Policy, LHA residents who wish to smoke must do so outdoors and at least 15 feet away from LHA buildings.


2014 Annual Plan for Public Comment

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Draft 2014 Annual Plan for Public Comment. Please click attachment below.

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Massachusetts Looks After Vulnerable Populations

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Massachusetts Looks After Vulnerable Populations

Since the economy took a turn for the worse in 2008, people across the U.S. have been struggling financially on many fronts. One of the principal symptoms of this has been the ever-increasing barriers to home ownership, with many people too sunk in debt to be able to afford a reasonable mortgage. As a result, many families and individuals rent their accommodation, but here too prices have become prohibitive: a “typical family looking to rent has to pay more than 30 percent of its income for a typical apartment” reports the Christian Science Monitor, and for lower-income families, this may rise to as much as half their earnings going towards rent. The increased demand for rental homes has increased a demand that pushes rental prices upwards.

Soaring costs of living becoming a burden

At the same time, other financial pressures are making it ever more difficult for families and vulnerable people to make ends meet. The soaring costs of education are turning college into the remotest of possibilities for some families, while others take the financial leap but are saddled with debt. College tuition costs have “increased 538 percent in the 28-year period” since 1985, reports Bloomberg, while “balances of student loans have eclipsed both auto loans and credit cards, making student loan debt the largest form of consumer debt outside of mortgages,” observes a report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Child care costs are increasing, especially in Massachusetts, where it is the highest in the entire nation with an “average annual cost of $16,430”, reports the Herald News. All families are feeling the crunch, but particularly those living on the minimum wage, which, adjusted for inflation, has decreased consistently since 1968.

Pressures on state support programs

Now more so than ever, budget cuts resulting in decreased assistance to vulnerable families and individuals are increasing the unbearable pressure on those with low incomes, and Massachusetts is working hard to continue to deliver social security to its most vulnerable populations. In an attempt to help combat the barriers to home ownership, the Massachusetts-based Mortgage Network provides “first-time low- and moderate-income borrowers with affordable financing options” – a project that will result not only in greater financial stability for those families who are able to buy their own home, but also in a deflated and therefore more affordable rental market. As observed by Governor Patrick in his recent State of the State address, Massachusetts is “the only state to guarantee emergency shelter” to those who need it, with state programs assisting homeless individuals not only providing food, shelter, and clothing to those who need it, but also helping people to secure permanent housing, providing healthcare and job assistance, and offering help with mental illness and substance abuse. This is particularly vital given the stigma attached to homeless people struggling with mental illness or substance abuse, which can cause addicts to “miss work, neglect family obligations and have financial problems,” notes the Coalition Against Drug Abuse. Programs are needed not only to help reduce the numbers of homeless people in the short term, but also to develop “innovative programs and services that address the underlying factors that cause homelessness in the first place,” argues the Boston Globe.

Heating benefits pledge

The recent ‘farm bill’ instated by Congress aimed to reduce the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (‘SNAP’) by ending state practices that triggered higher SNAP benefits for families receiving minimal heating assistance (as low as $1). The bill required that heating benefits would need to be raised to as high as $20 before resulting in an increase in SNAP benefits, but Massachusetts, along with Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Oregon, and Montana has used this loophole to keep its SNAP program up and running. Federal funding in the amount of $3 million will be used to fund the increase in heating assistance needed to keep SNAP benefits up and running. ''Despite what Speaker Boehner said last week (ironically, on the same day he invited Pope Francis to address a joint session of Congress), this effort is not 'fraud' or 'cheating' — it's an effort by states like Massachusetts to provide food to hungry families,'' commented U.S. Rep. James P. McGovern, D-Worcester.

The Lowell Housing Authority is proud to form part of the ongoing work of Massachusetts to take care of its most vulnerable citizens by improving services to families and individuals seeking housing assistance. 

 

Emma Finch


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