In June, a special commission appointed by Governor Patrick made mostly timid recommendations on how to improve operations and prevent corruption in local public housing authorities across the state. This week, Patrick attacked the problem head-on, by unveiling a bill to consolidate the state’s 240 housing agencies into six regional authorities.
More than most other public agencies, local housing authorities are highly vulnerable to wrongdoing. All too often, political coziness characterizes the relationships between housing executives and board members — some paid — who are usually appointed by local elected officials. That’s how former Chelsea housing chief Michael McLaughlin managed to arrange an obscene $360,000 salary for himself while failing to make needed improvements for low-income tenants. Other authorities have been plagued by no-show jobs, fraud, and favoritism in hiring and contracting.