Today’s Globe has an article on a little-known provision of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, otherwise known as the federal stimulus bill. The provision allows cities and towns to shift ownership of certain subsidized housing units to the federal government, as long as the units are in good condition.
Doing so would obviously help in the short run to take the strain off of state and municipal budgets and in the long run help funnel more capital investment to the upkeep of the units themselves, something, at least according to the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development, the feds have a greater fiscal capacity to achieve.
Now, I don’t know whether this is a good or bad idea. My complaint, and hence my blog, is not about that. It is about the contrasting reactions of officials in Boston and Worcester.
Worcester Housing Authority executive director Raymond Mariano’s reaction was:
There’s a huge incentive for housing authorities to do this. We need at least to consider it, especially for large authorities like Worcester’s.
BHA administrator Bill McGonagle’s reaction was:
I view this as nothing short of the Commonwealth abandoning its moral and legal responsibilities for the thousands of poor, elderly, and disabled folks living in state public housing.
Not, we’ll look at it. Not, we’ll consider it. Not, we’ll study it. No, a simple, reflexive, we’re not going to do that, the same reaction that seems to emanate from Boston’s City Hall any time a new idea is put on the table, from joining the GIC, to creating a 311 call system, to exploring ways to increase capital investment in the city’s subsidized housing stock.
Not every provision tucked into a federal bill or idea floated by a policy think tank like ours truly is a good one, but we can’t be so afraid of new ideas that we don’t at least explore the possibility that one or two of them just might be.