OLR Bill Analysis

sSB 320 (File 131, as amended by Senate "A")*

AN ACT CONCERNING THE SELECTION OF TENANT COMMISSIONERS.

SUMMARY:

This bill adds methods for selecting tenant commissioners for a public housing authority's board of directors. Currently, the municipality's chief executive officer or governing body appoints housing authority commissioners, including the tenant commissioners. In doing so, they must consider for appointment tenant commissioners suggested by any tenant organization. The bill establishes a process for recognizing tenant organizations that may elect or designate tenants to the board according to the organization's bylaws.

The bill also provides a mechanism for tenants to petition for an election if no recognized organization exists. Whether an election is held under an organization's bylaws or petitioned by the tenants, the housing authority must use its best efforts (in agreement with the tenant organization, to the extent practicable) to arrange for a neutral third-party organization to administer the election.

If the bill's provisions for electing the tenant commissioner or selecting one under a tenant organization's bylaws are not utilized, then the appointing authority must select the appointee by considering tenants the organization suggests, as under current law.

*Senate Amendment “A” makes clarifying changes to distinguish the appointing authority and housing authority in the bill's new language.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2010

TENANT COMMISSIONER SELECTION

Recognized Tenant Organization

The bill formalizes the process for recognizing tenant organizations with the power to recommend or designate tenants for the governing board. Under current law, any tenant organization can (1) indicate its interest in receiving notice of a pending housing authority appointment and (2) suggest candidates for the position of tenant commissioner.

The bill gives tenants the explicit authority to establish a tenant organization, which must elect a governing board and may request that the housing authority recognize it as representing all the authority's tenants. The authority must recognize the organization as official if it determines that the governing board's election was conducted fairly and with sufficient notice to all tenants.

A recognized organization then has the power to recommend or designate tenants for appointment to the housing authority.

Official Tenant Organization

When a tenant organization has been recognized, the commissioner appointee must be selected (1) in an election by all tenants who have received sufficient notice of the election or (2) by another means specified in the organization's bylaws. An alternative means can include selection by the organization's governing board.

No Official Tenant Organization

When no official organization has been recognized, 10% or 75 tenants, whichever is less, can petition the authority for an election. In that case, all tenants must receive notice of the election and the tenant commissioner is selected by a vote of all the tenants.

TENANT COMMISSIONER QUALIFICATIONS AND AUTHORITY

The bill reduces the criteria a tenant must meet to serve as a commissioner. By law, the commission that oversees a local housing authority must include at least one member who is a tenant of the authority.  The number of tenant commissioners depends on the commission's size.  Those with five or fewer members must include at least one tenant member; those with more than five must have at least two.  In both cases, a tenant can serve as a commissioner if he or she resided in a unit owned or managed by the authority for at least one year. A “tenant” also includes people who previously resided for at least one year in housing owned or managed by the authority and no longer do but currently receive housing assistance directly from the authority. These people would include, for example, those residing in privately owned units and whose rents are being subsidized by the authority. Under current law, tenant commissioners are barred from voting on any matter concerning rental charges.

The bill deletes the length-of-residency requirement, permitting any tenant who lives in authority-owned and –managed housing or who receives housing assistance in a program directly administered by the authority to serve.

It also removes the restriction on a tenant commissioner voting on establishing or revising the rents the authority charges.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Housing Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

11

Nay

0

(03/11/2010)

Planning and Development Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

15

Nay

3

(04/14/2010)