Boston Housing Authority

Center for Community Engagement > Resident Empowerment > RAB > History

Boston Housing Authority Resident Advisory Board History

RAB I (1999-2001)

Summer 1999:  BHA convenes first meeting to discuss having a Resident Advisory Board at the Amory Street development. Notice was sent out to all Section 8 participants and to all public housing Local Tenant Organizations (LTOs).  Hundreds showed up.  Public housing & Section 8 tenants ended up having to meet separately, and each then strategized on follow-up.

Summer 1999: Section 8 participants who were interested showed up for a 2nd meeting, and this group of 13 volunteers then formed the Section 8 portion of the RAB.  LTOs met and decided on an election process for both family and elderly/disabled developments (open to both state and federal developments):  each recognized LTO would pick 2 representatives who would come to an election meeting and select public housing RAB members. CBPH, MSAC, and GBLS coordinated that meeting, and 21 members were chosen.  (There were no alternates, but it was agreed that if a member could not attend, s/he would arrange for another representative from his/her development to attend.)  It was decided (in conjunction with BHA suggestions) that the RAB members would serve for a 2-year term.

Fall 1999:  RAB met with BHA to start doing the FY 2000 Annual Plan.  Steering Committee was picked by RAB, with Edna Bynoe (family public housing) as acting chair and Rene Franks (Section 8) as acting recording secretary. BHA staff involved were Kathy Carton and Kathy Field (later on, Kate Bennett and John Kane took on the role as BHA liaison).  Meetings occurred at 52 Chauncy Street, and BHA agreed to provide light meal and transportation for participants.  RAB also decided to hold a few “RAB only” meetings to which it would decide whether to invite others (meetings held at sites other than 52 Chauncy St.)  GBLS, CBPH, and MSAC played role as “technical advisors” to the RAB.  BHA made a number of changes to its proposed policies based on RAB comments.  First PHA Plan Public Hearing held.

Winter 2000: BHA submitted first PHA Plan to HUD.  Majority of RAB members (but not all) decided that they didn’t like how the process had worked and decided to write to HUD separately.  This caused some hurt feelings among RAB members and with BHA.  There were some process suggestions about how to make decisions like this in the future (i.e., a draft letter of that level of importance should go out to all members in advance first before being approved, rather than just being brought to the meeting, and if there was an issue with the BHA, RAB would first give BHA an opportunity to respond before going to a third party like HUD).  There was also agreement that BHA and RAB would work together on developing future agendas for RAB meetings.

Spring 2000: RAB, working with GBLS, developed a list of Operating Principles for how it should operate.  This included a requirement for a minimum quorum of 6 members.  These developed over time into the RAB Bylaws (see below).

Summer 2000: BHA and RAB sent out notice to members to be sure that there is still interest in serving in gearing up for FY 2001 Plan process, which includes pieces on Pet Policy, Community Service Policy, as well as some mid-year revisions to the FY 2000 PHA Plan (Admissions & Continued Occupancy Policy, Relocation & Rehousing Policy).  It was agreed that if people had missed 3 meetings and did not respond to postcard notices, they would be dropped from the RAB.  (No process was agreed on for filling vacancies, and the RAB just operated as a smaller body.)

Winter/Spring 2001:  For election in May 2001 RAB agreed that there would be 30 representatives chosen—10 family public housing, 10 elderly/disabled public housing, and 10 Section 8—and 5 alternates also from each group.  Elections for public housing would be done in a manner similar to 1999.  For Section 8, Section 8 members served on an election committee, and notices were sent out to all Section 8 tenants of interest/willingness to serve.  RAB also decided to adopt “Roberts Rules of Order Simplified” (provided by one of the Section 8 members) as ground rules for how meetings would operate.

RAB II (2001-2003)

Summer/Fall 2001: New RAB decided to elect co-chairs for each of the three constituencies:  Edna Bynoe for family public housing, Frank Pina for elderly/disabled public housing, and Dotty Guild for Section 8.  Co-chairs would rotate in chairing the meetings.  BHA had also proposed a set-aside of part of the $25/unit funds for the RAB’s operations ($5/unit), but RAB members rejected this, not wanting to be caught in a conflict where LTO funding could be reduced.  Sub-committees were also formed, and members indicated their interest in serving on one or more committees.

Winter 2002: RAB agreed that if a member wanted an item on the agenda of the meeting, s/he should consult with the chair for that meeting.  Co-chairs would consult with each other between the meetings about the agenda, and co-chair for that meeting and BHA staff would finalize/confirm the agenda.  RAB members exchanged phone numbers, but agreed that this contact information would only be used for RAB business.  Operating Procedures document updated to reflect changes made since spring of 2000.

Winter/Spring 2003: In preparing for the new RAB elections in 2003, draft bylaws were reviewed and approved by the RAB, drawing off the Operating Procedures but filling in details where there were gaps.

RAB III (2003-2006)

Summer-Fall 2003: New co-chairs were selected:  Remona Davis for family public housing, John Young for elderly/disabled public housing, and Philip Askew for Section 8.  (Mr. Young subsequently passed away, and he was replaced by Prince Haraway.) RAB starts process of having Reading Committees to help evaluate and comment on PHA Plan process.

2004-2005: RAB decided that it would be beneficial to have an extended training on both technical issues (what comes up in the PHA Plan Process) and practical skills (how to work well as a group, facilitation, public speaking, conflict resolution, etc.)  Ad Hoc Training Committee is formed, and Mass. Union is selected as trainer, with Annette Duke from Mass. Law Reform Institute, Jack Cooper from Mass. Union, and Mac McCreight from GBLS serving as trainers, and with occasional help from other trainers/presenters (including former HUD and DHCD staff).  Based on these trainings, RAB begins to institute certain additional steps in its process, including review of agendas and minutes, having an evaluation at the end of each meeting (what went well and what needs improvement), etc.  Funding for this came from unobligated tenant participation ($25/unit) funds.

Spring 2005: RAB decided to extend its term for an additional year to get the benefit of what it had learned in the training.  Since no method had yet been developed/agreed upon for filling vacancies, it was agreed that for the balance of the 2005-2006 term, quorum would be reduced to 6 (was 9 in the 2003 bylaws).

Summer 2005:  The RAB, BHA Monitoring Committee, and BHA LTOs co-sponsored a Resident Leadership Training Summit at Northeastern University with the assistance of CBPH and participation by BHA and GBLS.

Winter/Spring 2006: The RAB went through a long series of discussions that resulted in some significant bylaw changes particularly related to RAB elections.  Because the discussions took so long, not all of the bylaw issues were resolved prior to the May, 2006 RAB elections.  One of the changes was to expand the number of alternates per constituency from 5 to 10.

RAB IV (2006-2009)

Summer 2006: New RAB chose Lily Berry as family public housing co-chair, Ruth Villard as elderly/disabled public housing co-chair, and two people—Romulos Hernandez and Tim Corrigan—as Section 8 co-chairs.  RAB also decides to move the location for its meetings from 52 Chauncy Street to Amory Street since the space is less cramped there.

Fall 2006: Because of shortage of Section 8 members and alternates who were willing to run for election in May, 2006, RAB decides to create a means of filling Section 8 vacancies—i.e., that BHA Section 8 participants who are interested in serving can come to RAB meeting and ask to join the Board as representatives/alternates.  Eventually this same mechanism is adopted for filling vacancies in public housing alternate slots.  A fair number of individuals are added to the RAB Board between 2006 and 2009 in this way.

Spring 2008: RAB adopted a number of bylaw amendments.  It decided to extend term from 2 to 3 years (as was done in 2005).  It decided to limit term of officers to one-year, and that new officer elections will be held in the summer of 2008 (although individuals could choose to run again if they wished, i.e., no term limit).  It decided on a minimum attendance requirement for alternates to be eligible to move up to member positions.  It added alternate officer positions for each of the main positions (co-chairs, secretary, and treasurer).  Several officers step down due to absence or illness; Susan Lenardis was elected new family co-chair, and Edna Willrich as new Section 8 co-chair.  Sergeant at arms and timekeeper arrangements established (timekeeper arrangement, like evaluations, not in the Bylaws but becomes established practice).

Summer 2008: New officer elections held, and Susan Lenardis, Ruth Villard, and Ernestine Simmons (for Section 8) are elected new co-chairs.

Spring-Summer 2009: RAB/BHA decided to expand the Request for Proposals process for doing the RAB elections to encompass both public housing and Section 8 elections (previously, this was just for public housing).  Delays in getting procurement process done mean that elections are delayed a few months.  Elections result in great turn-out/participation on the Section 8 side (unlike the elections in 2006), but with insufficient turnout by public housing LTO representatives despite outreach.

RAB V (2009-2012)

Fall-Winter 2009: New RAB chose Susan Lenardis as family public housing co-chair, Kathryn Ragan as elderly/disabled public housing co-chair, and Lorraine Brown as Section 8 co-chair, Alice Fonseca-Nichols as secretary, and Nuvana Ivory as treasurer.  RAB also has first experience with having to remove a Board member for just cause.

Winter/Spring 2010:  HUD and National Housing Law Project (NHLP) seek out Section 8 participants to participate in Resident Engagement meetings nationally on new HUD proposals.  Three RAB Section 8 members (Maggie Brown, Lorraine Brown, and Jung Wing Lee) selected. (Residents nationally continue to participate in calls after HUD meeting in April 2010, and CBPH serves as place where residents can listen in on calls.)

Spring/Summer 2010:  Susan Lenardis steps down as family public housing co-chair.  Outreach event results in additional public housing tenants being willing to serve on RAB.  Anna Mae Cole elected as family public housing co-chair, Kathryn Ragan re-elected as elderly/disabled public housing co-chair, and Edna Willrich as Section 8 co-chair.  Lorraine Brown elected as secretary.  Treasurer position left vacant.

Fall 2010/Spring 2011: Vigorous debate over BHA non-smoking policy in PHA Plan review.  BHA and RAB agree that RAB shall have its own budget and expenses will be within funds set aside in budget (with carve-outs to conduct RAB elections and for Section 8 organizing).  David Turney elected as treasurer, and Budget Committee created including 2 members from each constituency to help oversee expenditures (with reporting back to Board and Board approval as needed).  RAB votes to extend term to 3rd year (mid-2012).

Summer 2011:  Anna Mae Cole re-elected as family public housing co-chair, Carol Leary as elderly/disabled public housing co-chair, and Diane Wignall as Section 8 co-chair.  Ron Shepard elected secretary, and David Turney re-elected treasurer.  

Winter/Spring 2012:  Carol Leary steps down from RAB, and Janice Lee (co-chair) becomes acting elderly/disabled public housing chair.  RAB submits 2nd budget which is approved by BHA.  BHA begins to implement non-smoking policy (full implementation fall 2012).  Boston Resident Training Institute (BRTI) selected by Ad Hoc Election committee to oversee RAB elections.  HUD approves changes to Section 8 Administrative Plan and Admissions and Occupancy Policy (ACOP) after RAB review & public hearing.

RAB VI (2012-2016)

Summer 2012:  New RAB elected (10 family public housing members & 4 alternates; 8 elderly/disabled public housing members; 10 Section 8 members and 3 alternates).  At first RAB meeting, two additional family public housing alternates added, and a 9th elderly/disabled public housing member and one alternate. RAB elected Betty Carrington as family public housing chair, Clarence Ware as elderly/disabled housing chair, Charles Mulvey as section 8 chair, David Turney as Treasurer, and Alice Fonseca as Secretary.

Summer 2013: RAB elected Betty Carrington as family public housing chair, Gebre Ahmed as elderly/disabled housing chair, Edna Willrich as section 8 chair, David Turney as Treasurer, and Elizabeth Foundas as Secretary.  The RAB helped sponsor the Strategic Sustainability Summit for the BHA at the State House.

Winter 2013/2014: Gebre Ahmed left the RAB due to health concerns and Frank Christmas was elevated from co-chair to chair of elderly/disabled and Elizabeth Foundas stepped down as Secretary and Betty Wade was elevated from co-secretary to secretary.  The RAB voted to extend their term to a third year so the term is extended until summer 2015.

RAB VII (2016-2019)

Summer 2016: A new Board was elected in summer 2016.  At the first Board meeting, Valerie Shelley was elected as the Family chair, Edna Willrich as the Section 8 chair, Michele McNickles as the Elderly/Disabled chair; John Maloni was elected as the Secretary, and Concetta Paul was elected as the Treasurer.
Summer 2017:   At the July 2017 Board meeting Officer Elections were held: Valerie Shelley was re-elected as the Family chair, Edna Willrich as the Section 8 chair, Michele McNickles as the Elderly/Disabled chair; Betty Wade was elected as the Secretary, and Concetta Paul was re-elected as the Treasurer.