Richard: Scituate Housing Authority working to remedy deficiencies at Rockland Oaks

Richard: Scituate Housing Authority working to remedy deficiencies at Rockland Oaks

On Oct. 29, the Rhode Island Supreme Court issued an order which keeps in place the current members on the Scituate Housing Authority Board. Former Board Chairman Richard Finnegan, together with other former Board members, all of whom had been appointed by the prior Town Council under the “Independent Men,” sought the removal of the current Board and reinstatement of their positions on the Board. Represented by Attorney Michael Marcello, Mr. Finnegan petitioned the court to overturn the May 2019 decision of the current Town Council removing them from office. Fortunately, the Supreme Court denied Mr. Finnegan’s petition, thus, upholding their removal.

Upon taking office in January 2019, the Town Council, now under Republican leadership, began receiving numerous complaints from the United States Department of Agriculture and Rhode Island Housing and Mortgage Finance Cooperation that Rockland Oaks was not in compliance with federal and state regulations, and that immediate correction of the deficiencies was needed. These charges included widespread management deficiencies and regulatory non-compliance, continued violation of the management plan and federal civil rights regulations, not pursuing rent increases issued by HUD, expending of over $96,000.00 (most of the balance) from the capital reserve account without any authorization, continued failure to budget as required, continued delinquency of the monthly mortgage payment, and a tenant / Board member bypassing the waiting list in violation of regulatory requirements.

In response, the Town Council held two public hearings to address these charges with Mr. Finnegan and the other former Board members. Unfortunately, they refused to have any discussion with the Town Council or otherwise participate in the hearings other than limited engagement from Attorney Marcello.

Faced with near crisis conditions at Rockland Oaks, the Town Council subsequently appointed the current Board members to the Scituate Housing Authority.

Under new leadership, the Scituate Housing Authority is pleased to report that it has been diligently working to remedy the deficiencies and to provide the residents of Rockland Oaks a home they can be proud of and thrive in. The new Board has rebuilt relations with state and federal regulators, returned financial stability to Scituate Housing Authority and, most importantly, given the residents at Rockland Oaks a safe, comfortable and inviting environment in which to live.

Ted Richard

Chairman, Scituate Housing Authority