Bromley-Heath plans better tenant relations

David Taber

JACKSON SQ.—The Bromley-Heath Tenant Management Corporation (TMC) and the Boston Housing Authority (BHA) agreed to an “action plan” last month intended to improve relations between tenants and the TMC.

The action plan comes seven months after a civil rights investigation last year found no “quantifiable or verifiable evidence of unlawful discrimination” by the TMC, but did report that there is a perception among Latino residents that TMC staffers are biased.

The investigation, carried out by a consulting firm, was undertaken after the BHA received numerous complaints about the TMCs treatment of Latino residents. The Boston Housing Authority owns Bromely-Heath and the TMC manages the property. Bromley-Heath is one of the only public housing developments in the country run by tenants.

The population of the 800-unit housing development is about 50 percent Hispanic and about 44 percent black/non-Hispanic, according to the investigation report released last September.

TMC Deputy Director David Worrell told the Gazette that overall the action plan is a sensible plan for addressing demographic changes at the housing development, which has seen a rise in its Latino population in recent years.

“It’s in line with what we [already] planned to do,” he said.

Conversations with the BHA were initially rocky following the release of the investigation report, Worrell said.

“The first problem we had with the whole thing was that the report and the way the BHA approached us was that we did something wrong…The TMC has done nothing wrong,” he said.

“We look forward to continuing our commitment towards working with the TMC and our diverse population of residents on fostering cross-cultural sensitivity and understanding,” BHA spokesperson Lydia Agro said in an email to the Gazette.

Key components of the action plan include hiring a cross-cultural communications skills trainer to work with the TMC, holding regular meetings with groups of Bromley-Heath residents and developing a new series of educational brochures about the housing development.

The TMC will also step up its efforts to translate its materials into Spanish, the action plan says.

The action plan also outlines some new recordkeeping procedures for the TMC, including a new system for TMC staff to review police logs on a daily basis and determine if for-cause eviction proceedings should be started.

Last fall, investigators concluded that 44 alleged incidents had been reported since January 2009 that should have led to eviction proceedings. TMC officials disputed that claim.

In his own review, included in a draft version of the action plan that the Gazette obtained last month, Worrell said he found only four incidents during that time period that would “require actions possibly leading to eviction.”

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