Zhen Ren Chuan 2021
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AHA tenant seat goes to its first Latina rep

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Menotomy Manor resident Fiorella Badilla was unanimously appointed to the tenant member seat on the Arlington Housing Authority (AHA) board during the Monday, Aug. 9, Select Board meeting.

Her formal appointment marks the first time in the authority’s 72-year history that a Latina is represented on the five-member board of the state agency that provides rental housing to low-income, elderly and disabled residents.

Badilla was temporarily appointed to the authority board last November, to the seat vacated by veteran board member Richard Murray.

Housing authorities align with cities

Last Jan. 14, Gov. Baker signed legislation that required housing authorities to designate a permanent tenant board seat to be appointed by the town. This process mirrors how tenants are currently appointed to housing authority boards in cities since 2014, according to the Citizens’ Planning and Housing Association fact sheet, and “ensures tenant participation in the governance of their homes.”

Badilla will complete the remainder of Murray’s five-year term, which expires in April 2023. She was one of eight tenant candidates for the seat, including residents from Menotomy Manor, Cusack Terrace and Winslow Towers.

Board meets remotely, Hurd recusal 

Chair Steve DeCourcey said that an in-chambers Select Board meeting was canceled at the last minute and was held remotely because of the increase in area Covid transmission rates. “For a meeting that could last three to four hours, we thought it best to have the meeting remotely,” even with abiding by the town’s policy requiring face coverings in all municipal buildings, instituted that day.

Board member John Hurd recused himself from the vote, stating that he had “a familial relationship with the operations manager of the housing authority who is currently serving as the interim executive director,” and to “clear any potential appearance of conflict of interest. In the interest of full disclosure, I am going to recuse myself from the discussion and vote on this item.”

Hurd’s sister is married to Jack Nagle, interim executive director of the authority. According to previous reporting in YourArlington, Hurd is a member of a well-known Arlington family. His father, Jack, served on the Board of Selectmen from 1997 to 2011, and Franklin Hurd Jr. was executive director of the housing authority until 2007, replaced by John Griffin, who has been on indefinite personal leave since April.

Candidates state qualifications 

Only two candidates attended the remote meeting, with Badilla touting her experience of serving on the authority board. She said she would use her appointment “to represent the interests of all housing authority tenants.” She noted that she had been an advocate for “the replacement of the leaky windows and doors at Menotomy Manor” and that she will “continue to advocate for tenant rights.”

Pam Hauser, Winslow Tower Tenant Association president, told the board that her eight years as president make her a “very qualified candidate for this position. I was very vocal in obtaining new elevators and windows” for the high-rise apartment building on Mystic Street.

Board congratulates Badilla, thanks others 

Following those statements, DeCourcey thanked “everybody who expressed interest in the housing authority position, and for submitting written materials and for being involved in the town.” Those candidates were Menotomy Manor, Dylan Dalton, Alicia Jones, Julia Moden and Vanessa Rowsell; Cusack Terrace, Pat Dunleavy and Cynthia McGinty; Winslow Towers, Hauser.

The board’s unanimous vote adds Badilla to a board composed of Chair Brian Connor, Vice Chair Jo Anne Preston, Treasurer Gaar Talanian and member Nick Mitropoulos.

Select Board member Len Diggins congratulated Badilla, “I think you’ve done a great job. I encourage you to continue working with us, and maybe even in larger realms.”

Board member Diane Mahon wanted the record to reflect that the majority of the candidates “are very actively involved in housing authority properties and working with their neighbors. I want to thank [them] on behalf of the town.”

Badilla thanked for the board for the appointment, and said she was “so looking forward to the next two years.”

The next meeting of the Arlington Housing Authority, with newly appointed tenant representative, Badilla, meets remotely at 7 p.m. Aug. 25. Check the AHA website for details. 


July 12, 2021: Tenants’ association at Menotomy Manor takes shape

 


This news summary by YourArlington freelancer Melanie Gilbert was published Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021.

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