PA 10-67—sSB 320 (VETOED)

Housing Committee

Planning and Development Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING THE SELECTION OF TENANT COMMISSIONERS

SUMMARY: This act adds methods for selecting tenant commissioners for a public housing authority's board of directors and expands the definition of “tenants” who are eligible to participate in the selection of and serve on the board. By law, 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 act establishes a process for recognizing tenant organizations that may elect or designate tenants to the board according to the organization's bylaws.

The act also provides a mechanism for tenants to petition for an election if no recognized organization exists. Whether an election is required or petitioned for 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 act'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 prior law.

Finally, the act removes a requirement under which tenants qualified for commissioner only if they currently or previously lived in authority housing and had done so for at least one year. It also removes the prohibition against tenant commissioners voting to establish or revise rents.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2010

TENANT COMMISSIONER SELECTION

Recognized Tenant Organization

The act formalizes the process for recognizing tenant organizations with the power to recommend or designate tenants for the governing board. By 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 act 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 the tenant representative for appointment to the housing authority.

Official Tenant Organization

When an official 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% of the tenants or 75 tenants, whichever is less, can petition the authority for an election to select the tenant commissioner. 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

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 members must include at least one tenant member; those with more than five must have at least two. The act reduces the criteria a tenant must meet to serve as commissioner.

Prior law allowed only current or former housing authority tenants to qualify for tenant commissioner. It also set a length-of-residency requirement. Specifically, a tenant was eligible only if, for at least one year, he or she currently or previously resided in authority-owned or -managed housing. A tenant who previously resided in such housing had to be currently receiving housing assistance in a program that the authority administered (for example, individuals residing in privately-owned units but whose rents the authority subsidizes).

The act (1) extends eligibility to individuals who receive housing assistance from the authority but have never lived in authority-owned or –managed housing and (2) eliminates the length-of-residency requirement.

The act also removes the provision in prior law that barred a tenant commissioner from voting on establishing or revising rents the authority charges.

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