|HUD No. 00-283|
|Further Information:||For Release|
|In the Washington, DC area: 202/708-0685||Friday|
|Or contact your local HUD office||November 24, 2000|
HUD report on BHA's success
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HUD SAYS BHA HAS MADE SUBSTANTIAL PROGRESS IN REDUCING RACIAL, ETHNIC HARASSMENT
WASHINGTON - The Boston Housing Authority has made "substantial progress" in acting on recommendations made by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to address racial and ethnic harassment in housing authority properties, HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo said today.
Cuomo's comments followed the release of a HUD report on BHA's success in implementing HUD recommendations to improve shortcomings in the housing authority's procedures and policies, a number of which involved civil rights issues.
The report documents progress made in the area of civil rights violations and housing discrimination that have become a major focus at HUD during the past four years as a result of President Clinton's One America Initiative.
"The Boston Housing Authority has made substantial improvements in response to all 53 of our recommendations," Cuomo said. "They have either fulfilled our recommendations or made acceptable progress towards meeting them, and I congratulate Mayor Menino and Administrator Henriquez for their success in improving civil rights for tenants there."
In May 1999, HUD, as part of its crackdown, released a report critical of BHA's responses to racial and ethnic harassment since 1996 at its Charlestown and South Boston developments. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and Housing Administrator Sandra Henriquez agreed at that time to implement the report's recommendations within one year. HUD also sent an oversight team to monitor the housing authority's compliance with the recommendations.
In today's follow-up report, the team wrote that, "Overall, the face of civil rights has changed dramatically at the BHA. The most important accomplishment by BHA is that the incidence of severe acts of racial/ethnic violence/assault has decreased significantly." After implementing HUD's recommended changes on incorporating civil rights into the mainstream of public housing management, the team also called the BHA a "leading example and a national model to be replicated by other public housing authorities."
HUD found that BHA residents were more aware of their civil rights and were more comfortable with the BHA's response to civil rights violations. Today's report also said that BHA has:
- Reformed the civil rights department by requiring more attention to be devoted to complaints of racial and ethnic harassment, and better educating residents about their civil rights.
- Improved policing and security at its developments, through more police patrols, a plan to recruit more minority police officers, and other security improvements.
- Increased civil rights training for BHA employees, linking performance incentives to effectiveness in combating racial and ethnic harassment, and additional personnel reforms.
- Overhauled tenant transfer procedures to make it easier to move residents out of troubled situations, including hiring a transfer coordinator who has streamlined the process and is keeping tenants informed about the status of transfer requests.
- Increased public participation in BHA management by establishing a committee to provide oversight and input to the BHA management. The committee, appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the city council, will begin meeting in December.
Today's report also noted that some of the recommendations, although started, have not been completed. HUD will continue to review the Authority's practices and procedures until all the recommendations are completed. HUD will also continue to provide technical assistance to the Authority.
In developing today's report the HUD team interviewed BHA senior staff, residents and their representatives, community groups, police and others. The team examined BHA documents and records, attended and monitored meetings held by BHA staff, residents and community groups, reviewed training classes, and attended security reviews.