For seven years I resided at Cedar Gardens. During that time I helped organize the tenants so that there might be a way for us to get the many problems we were having addressed properly. Under the laws and regulations of the Commonwealth, we established the Cedar Gardens Tenant Organization (CGTO) and developed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) together with the NHA. The MOU was signed by the Executive Director, the NHA Board of Directors, and the CGTO. It was later accepted as valid and binding by the DHCD. Now the tools to achieve effective cooperation between the NHA and the residents were available for use.
In my opinion, the basic reason public housing has not improved in Natick is the lack of effective management. With effective management, I believe the NHA would not be in the situation it finds itself today: on the verge of receivership. In the good years, when NHA was operating effectively with only the funds generated by rents, no plans for the future were developed. Now the future is here and we see where NHA is.
I will not comment on the particulars mentioned in the article. I am no longer a resident of NHA, so my comments would be ill informed. What I have addressed is how a management that was not responsive to the tenants for years has failed the citizens of Natick and the Commonwealth. If we tenants could get ourselves together and organize for change, then there is no reason why NHA could not have done the same. Together anything is possible.
In conclusion: If I go to a restaurant and find the service and food inferior, I complain to the manager, not to the staff. For the manager of NHA to blame his staff for his failings is an insult to the people of Cedar Gardens and the public. With an effective management team in place, one clearly committed to good public housing, I believe that NHA could be turned around to become, once again, an agency Natick can be proud of. Residents, through the CGTO, the NHA Board of Directors, and prominent Natick citizens have all worked too hard for it not to be.
I realize that the the tone is harsh, but seven years of watching Mr. Santos ruin public housing in Natick, my mother's hometown, and witnessing the deep frustration long-term residents were having, to see it finally come down to a fight among bureaucrats, saddens and infuriates me. Why Mr. Santos has been allowed to mismanage public housing in Natick for so many years is beyond careless. It verges of abuse of power and blatant indifference. Natick is a proud community. I ask myself, how could the citizens let this happen? Effective action years ago would have resulted in excellent public housing for the elderly and disabled. Government without citizen vigilance and oversight is dangerous and detrimental to the citizenry. Fortunately there are some people and institutions like you and the Patch who are committed to holding up a mirror to the failings of public figures and government agencies.
George W. Ross,
Founding President, Cedar Gardens Tenant Organization