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Norton Selectmen Object to Housing Regionalization

Board says plan will hurt seniors and handicapped.

Shrinking the state’s 240 local housing authorities to half a dozen regional districts will hurt the seniors and the handicapped, Norton selectmen said Thursday.

The board sharply criticized Governor Patrick’s proposed cost saving measure at their regular meeting. 

“This wide change would affect thousands of people,” said selectman Bob Salvo, who is also a member of the housing authority.

In Massachusetts, about 90,000 state subsidized units house low-income seniors, families, and handicapped residents. Eligible tenants pay about 30 percent of their net income. Seniors and handicapped living in state-operated housing do not pay for utilities, while others pay a portion of that cost.

Norton has several state-operated congregate housing developments and some single-family units; the largest project is Woodland Meadows off Route 123.

 Chairman Tim Giblin said the huge regionalization effort would create an average of 80 housing authorities under one administrative umbrella. Local management and maintenance would remain intact under the new proposal, but budgeting and other administrative duties would be handled by the larger authority.

 “I’m all for regionalization,” said board member Robert Kimball. The town only recently has helped to create a five town Veteran’s district to save resources. “But the direct responsibility should be under the direction of the Housing Authority. I’m concerned with the proposal – the board should send a letter to the Governor expressing concern.”

Board members commented that abuse and problems at other large housing authorities should be addressed and the issues fixed before smaller authorities are made to pay for those infringements.

Town Manager Michael Yunits said he would meet with the local authority and use their input to draft a letter to the state objecting to the proposal to regionalize on such a large scale.

Norton’s Housing Authority employs executive director Andrea Downey, administrative assistant Mary Wells and housing coordinator Kathleen Kelly-Grudain. There are four commissioners – Robert Salvo, Frederick Annas, Stephen Ceckowski and Ralph Stefanelli.

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