8.14.2006

The Newton Housing Authority's broken list

Rants about municipal bureaucracies are nothing new, but what caught my eye about margalit's post about her recent dealings with Newton Housing Authority was this statement, concerning her place on the waiting list for public housing resources in Newton:
... [The NHA employee] comes back like 3 minutes later and tells me my number is the same that it was two years ago.

Now that's a problem. Because it's a sequential list, and if I'm the same number that I was two years ago, that means that not one family has moved in 2 years. And I personally know of two families that have moved. So something is very rotten in our city. I tell her that this isn't possible, that I know people have moved, so how come my number hasn't changed. Hmmm... she's a bit stumped there. Then she tells me that's not how the list works. But that's exactly how the list works. People move out, you move up.

I tell her I'm finding this extremely suspicious, especially since I was number 1 and then pushed way down the list and now the list remains the same. When I was on the top of the list it moved but not it no longer does? Something is not right. Something is very wrong.
I am sure that the NHA will come up with some smooth excuse to tell the local paper (if any reporters actually look into it) but my own observations of public waiting lists for valuable or important public services is that people with friends or relatives on the inside -- either civil servants or politicians -- tend to rise to the top faster than unconnected outsiders. This situation was one of the causes of the public housing scandal in Boston in the 1980s and early 1990s. It would be very interesting to see how people on the NHA list jumped the queue ahead of someone who has been on the list for years. Or is there a more innocent explanation?

Borderline has his own public waiting list problem, but hardly on the same scale as margalit. I have been on a two-year waiting list with the Waltham CIty Government's tree planting program for a tree on our curb -- for five years. I don't want to say some connected persons got pushed to the top of the list, because it could be the result of budget cuts or something else, but no bothered calling me up about it. When I contacted my city councillor two years ago, he said he had a lot to say about the list, but didn't get into details, except to promise he would push for some type of city-wide plan to improve the planting program.

Translation: I'll never get to the top of the list.

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1 Comments:

Blogger Minyi said...

Does anyone know if BORDERLINE ever got her apartment yet?

11:57 AM  

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