CHA's community room policy

An open letter to CHA by Teresa Cardosi

Spring, 2012

Basic Background:  As I understand it, the policy used to be, for family developments, a resident who wished to use the community space would make a deposit of $50. If the space was left neat and clean after the event, the deposit would be refunded. The new policy is a $70 refundable deposit plus a $30 non-refundable fee. For elder developments the refundable deposit is $30, but the non-refundable fee is the same—$30.

Most importantly, why were ACT and any tenant councils not involved in this policy change? 

Although CHA presented their proposed maintenance fee increases in summer 2010 and we had working sessions with them (ACT and tenant councils)—all the items discussed were fees, fines, and increases in existing fees.  Community space deposits and fees were never mentioned at that time.

According to Section 34 of our lease, no fees are to be increased without consultation—no changes without proper notice. This fee is completely new, because before all of the deposit was refundable; but now there's a permanent fee.

It is very difficult for tenants to believe the sincerity of CHA's commitment to fully involve tenants in the policy-making process—when changes are made without notification.  It feels like a betrayal.  In order for tenants to trust CHA, consistency in informing us of upcoming changes must be adhered to.

The new community room policy was not only put into effect without notice—according to the CHA insert in the residents' handbook the policy has been in effect since August 2010—more than a year before we received our residents' handbooks.

CHA might view  this community room policy change as minor; however because of the relationship impact (between CHA, A.C.T., tenant councils and tenants), it is major.  The reason is more than just the money—the reason is trust.  Tenants are, already, often skeptical about how they will benefit from changes in housing status. When tenant councils tell tenants that we are being informed of all policy changes as they occur—they would like to believe this.  Tenant councils lose some of their credibility when tenants find out that policies have changed without prior notification.  When tenant councils must explain that they had not been informed either—CHA loses all of its credibility. 

Lack of communication is not an option during this time when tenants feel that our housing could be in jeopardy.  It is conducive to A.C.T., tenant councils, tenants, and CHA to keep the “we” as opposed to the “us” and “them” atmosphere.  Although it is unintended, I believe this policy change has steered the climate between CHA and tenants downhill.

Respectfully,

Teresa Cardosi 

Woodrow Wilson Court/Fairmont Village Tenant Council