To the editor:
I would like to respond to Aaron Gornstein’s recent My View column regarding the proposed changes for Massachusetts Public housing (the Times, Thursday, Jan. 31).
I wholeheartedly agree with his philosophy, “the two most important principles of successful affordable housing are that it is developed and governed in partnership with local communities and that it has professional, responsive and highly efficient property management.” I welcome Mr. Gornstein to visit Chebacco Terrace in Essex, our public housing development, for he would then see for himself his philosophy in action on a local level.
I have been an elected housing commissioner for more than 10 years. My compensation for my services is the knowledge that I am giving back to my community.
I have been a real estate broker for more than 30 years, operating my own company in town for 21 years. I bring to the board my expertise not only in housing but also in management, procurement of goods and services, and public relations. My experience dealing with my clients in times of stress and urgency of housing needs is quite similar to the needs of those seeking public housing.
My fellow commissioners also bring their unique talents and life experiences to the board. All have professional backgrounds, excellent reputations and are outstanding citizens of Essex. Again, no commissioner receives monetary compensation, nor reimbursement for travel, time or miscellaneous items procured.
Our current housing director, Algis Utenis, is compensated for a part-time position with no benefits. He works well over his allotted hours because it is necessary to do so to keep up with the work needed to be done.
Al’s attention to detail has made Chebacco Terrace a pleasant place to live. He takes pride in turning units around quickly; our vacancy rate is zero and we always have a waiting list for units. Repairs to units are done in a very timely manner and all tenant concerns are addressed by the board as soon as they are brought to our attention.
Maybe the Essex Housing Board of Commissioners and director are an anomaly to the majority of other boards across the commonwealth. All I know is that we will continue to work competently and for the good of the residents of Essex until we are dismissed.
I sincerely doubt a regional housing authority will improve an already professional operation in Essex at a lesser cost to the public.
Pond Street, Essex
Essex Housing commissioner