Sunday, September 02, 2007

SPRINT TO THE SIXTH FLOOR III

The Herald News has been running a series every Monday asking the candidates for Mayor a question and giving them 200 words to respond. This is the third in the series and I apologize that I have not been able to locate the second online.

Like the first post I have provided the candidate responses here but omitted the name of the candidate each response belongs to. Can you figure out which answer belongs to which candidate? If not at the end of each answer is link to that candidate's website, or profile, just click on 'Do you know who this is?' to find out which candidate the answer belongs to.

In their own words, mayoral candidates present their views on public housing

I am for strengthening our neighborhoods to provide all citizens of Fall River with a better place to live.

Fall River Housing Authority should be a first-rate public housing program providing quality housing to those in need: our elderly and handicapped citizens, while remaining accountable to the taxpayers.

We need to reduce public housing to other and empower them to independence through employment and home ownership. By statute a city must have 10% of its homes as public housing, we already have 18%. 75% of the waiting list is made up of individuals from other parts of the state. They are not our problem.

Therefore, I am in favor of razing Watuppa Heights and developing single family homes for sale to first time homebuyers. We won’t need to burden the citizens by increasing taxes to do this. Public housing projects often lead to despair with long term unemployment, drug abuse and crime. Therefore, I am in favor of new ideas: developing “pilot projects” in which the housing authority could experiment with selling buildings to private owners, requiring unemployed tenants to find jobs or do community service, and setting limits on how long able bodied people can live in public housing. Do you know who this is?

As mayor, I would take steps to implement the Wattupa Heights Demolition Project and would take further steps towards downsizing public housing in other areas of our city. We, as a city, are at a breaking point with regard to the size of our public housing stock. We cannot continue to provide public housing for people who seek housing from other parts of the state.

The current Fall River Housing Authority waiting lists reveal that 70% of the lists are for people outside Fall River. The City of Fall River has been asked to do more than its fair share as it relates to the state’s public housing crisis. The City of Fall River must and should provide services for our poor, our disabled, and our elderly, but should not be asked to perform those services for other communities throughout the Commonwealth. The state’s less fortunate are increasingly displaced out of the Boston area and are seeking housing opportunities here.

This influx of newcomers brings with it needs which become the responsibility of their new hosting community. This trend simply cannot continue. As mayor, I will continue the effort to foster a fairer more equitable system of public housing at the state level as it relates to the impact on the City of Fall River. Do you know who this is?

I feel that like in the past we need to look at all houseing sites in fall river some were renavated and some houses taken out to make smaller project complexes the ones i know of are heritage heights father defario sunset hill so lets do the same with watuppa heights as well pleasant view and maybe maple gardens and the one on new boston road there might be federal and state funds to get to do this i know that we in mass have missed out on monies for housing development two weeks ago i read a part in the providence journal how different cities were given different amount of monies there was 42 million dolllars in grants from the government there was non grants mentioned in mass for housing development so where is our government in office running for different offices who are suppose to take care of our city no one went to our grant writers to help find this monie rhode island was awake in this one congaratulations to them. by lessening housing developments it will help send the trouble some people to other cities and towns. it will help the maintanance lesser it is an all win Do you know who this is?

The Mayor has sway over the Housing Authority through appointing/approving 4 out of 5 members to their Board of Directors. I’m the only mayoral candidate to be nationally certified as a Public Housing Manager so I understand public housing issues better than my opponents and here’s what I would do:

1.) Ensure the Housing Authority is conducting national background checks as they claim they are now after the Poulin Campaign brought to light that they were not. CORI checks should not be Massachusetts only.

2.) The Housing Authority should’ve realized the need to replace lights and lock basements at developments before a murder occurred at Bennie Costa Plaza. Every development should have a Tenant’s Association to give good tenants a formal way to raise issues.

3.) Add surveillance cameras and/or electronic key cards at the most troubled developments.

4.) Reduce the amount of public housing. The plans to demolish Watuppa Heights appear to be floundering. I propose that we consider resurrecting the Housing Authority’s plans from 1998 to reduce 410 units at 4 developments: 285 from Sunset Hill, 72 from Maple Gardens, 42 from Pleasant View and 11 from Watuppa Heights.

5.) Enforce Guest Visit Policy. Do you know who this is?



We must look at several ways to improve the housing stock in Fall River.

Look into implementing the Hope VI program or other types of development plans within the public developments. Mixed income housing would be incorporated as part of the plan.

Accountability within the Housing Authority: We must ensure that every prospective tenant has a background check, both state and federal, prior to getting an apartment. Close monitoring must take place in regards to all visitors and regulations must be adhered to. Encourage tenant participation by assisting tenant organizations within each development. Nurture tenant and police relationships to enhance intelligence to combat criminal activity. Seek local and regional housing preference for placement of tenants.

We need to review and possibly advocate for federal law change regarding the mixing of young disabled adults with senior citizens residing in senior citizen public housing. I know directly from talking to senior residents problems exist.
Consider innovative ideas such as offering police officers rent free apartments within a family housing development to deter the infiltration of criminals and criminal activity. This would give encouragement to the majority of law-abiding residents within a development. Do you know who this is?

I voted to tear down the Watuppa Heights Housing Project and as mayor, I will work to further reduce housing projects in our city. Sadly, they have become havens for drug dealers and breeding grounds for crime and criminals.
Fall River exceeds the Mass. statute goal that 10 percent of each municipalities housing stock be affordable to low and moderate income households. While Fall River exceeds this number, most of the other 351 communities in Massachusetts are not even close when it comes to compliance.

The result has been an enormous strain on our service agencies and public safety. We’ve reached a breaking point and if we sit back and let it continue, we will be totally consumed by the program.

The way the burden can be lifted from Fall River is for the state to enforce the 10% equitable program, Something that they haven’t done. In fact, many communities are either fighting this through legal means or placing restrictions and limits on building. Meanwhile, the state just looks the other way.

If we as a community are to prosper, we need to that steps to rid crime from our city. We know that the public housing policy as it relates to projects is a failed policy. As a practical beginning, we should reduce public housing units. We’ve done more than our share, now it’s time for other communities to do some heavy lifting. Do you know who this is?

Public housing is an important issue in this upcoming election. I recognize the increased crime and degradation of many of these housing units. Under my administration a proactive management style will be implemented to address these concerns in two main phases.

The first phase will follow through with the Watuppa Heights demolition. During this phase, displaced residents will be given available housing within the community. The concept of giving Fall River residents preference on housing lists will be introduced and pursued.

The second phase will simultaneously focus on the management of the remaining housing developments. I will seek to create a task force to review, revise and update all public housing rules. Development managers will be given autonomous budgets and held accountable. Tenant associations will be created at each development with regular meetings. The focus of these meetings will be tenant education of our community expectations, tenant rules, maintenance and crime issues. Lastly my administration will aggressively enforce established rules and seek quick eviction of problematic residents while increasing police presence in and around these developments. Do you know who this is?

In my opinion, Fall River has absorbed more than its fair share of public housing from the rest of the Commonwealth. What Fall River is short on is affordable housing for working individuals and families.

The concept of public housing projects has never worked. That is why I spearheaded the legislation to demolish Watuppa Heights and build affordable housing. With that same resolve and commitment I will work to fast track the completion of this project, and then I would further work on thinning out the number of units in public housing projects. Public housing should be integrated into regular community neighborhoods providing quality affordable housing that low-income residents can call home.

Also, the same standards of excellence expected from private landlords should be imposed upon the housing authority. I would enforce existing laws that enable the housing authority to get injunctions against tenants who conduct criminal activity on public property.

These individuals will then be subject to arrest if they step foot on any public property. We can drive the criminal element out of our community and thus achieve the quality of life that all our residents deserve from their home environment. Do you know who this is?

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