Thank you very much, Steven [Steven Meritt].
It’s a tremendous honor, one of the greatest in my career as a legislator, to be receive this award from the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO), and to be before public housing advocates, administrators, and staff from across the United States. Thank you for all that you do.
I am very proud of my work as the Senate co-chair of the Joint Committee on Housing, in the Massachusetts Legislature. Over the past four years, I have worked closely with Rep. Kevin Honan, the House chair of the committee, and affordable housing advocates in Massachusetts to stop efforts to deny shelter to homeless families, increasing funding to provide homeless families and individuals with a home and supportive service, pass the largest affordable housing bond bill in state history, and pass a public housing authority reform bill that will increase public housing construction, empower tenants to ensure that the management of their homes is tenant-focused, improve collaboration between state government and local housing authorities, and better support housing authority staff.
None of this would have been made possible without the tireless work of MassNAHRO, the Massachusetts chapter of this organization. Over the past three years, with the support of my tremendous staff, I worked directly with MassNAHRO to conduct statewide hearings, participate in a commission, and draft legislation that would improve the state of public housing in Massachusetts. I want to give particular praise to MassNAHRO Executive Director Tom Connelly, who is an expert at motivating his members to be active with their legislative delegation, and played a critical role in getting this bill passed into law in just one legislative session.
I also want to thank Steven Meritt, Executive Director of the Norwood Housing Authority, Colleen Doherty, Executive Director of the Taunton Housing Authority, and my own hometown Housing Authority Director, Kelley Cronin, for their tireless work in educating me about the important work that public housing authorities and their staffs do that makes a difference in people’s lives. As a former Housing Authority member in my hometown of Acton, I also want to give a special thanks to former Acton Housing Authority Director Betty McManus, who taught me when I was first getting involved in public service that you need to treat each and every tenant with respect, and go the extra mile to provide them with peace of mind and security.
In closing, I want to say that a big part of my motivation in fighting for public housing is both my background on a Housing Authority board, and my work as a Legal Aid attorney, representing the poor, elderly and disabled with housing, unemployment, and disability problems.
What is so obviously clear to me is the need for our federal government, and every state in the nation, to dramatically invest in public housing, and support public housing authorities, to meet the needs of every American.
I know that the work that you do is often never recognized, and the challenges you face in serving the country’s most neglected are very difficult ones. So today, I want to say, from the bottom of my heart, a deep, deep gratitude for the work that everyone here in this room does every day for people that need all of our support. Thank you again for this wonderful award.