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Brookside Apartments on South Street is one of the Bennington Housing Authority properties mentioned in December, in a failing Public Housing Assessment System score for the fiscal year that ended in June 2011 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Housing Authority’s response indicates that problems have been addressed. (Mark Rondeau)
Wednesday March 20, 2013

NEAL P. GOSWAMI

Staff Writer

BENNINGTON -- The Bennington Housing Authority has responded to a negative assessment in December from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, indicating that previous deficiencies have all been addressed.

In a Nov. 30 letter to the BHA commissioners, HUD Director Marilyn B. O'Sullivan said the local authority received a failing Public Housing Assessment System score for the fiscal year that ended in June 2011. The letter called for BHA to take immediate action to identify the source of performance deficiencies and develop a plan to recover its score.

BHA commissioners met Monday to approve a corrective action letter explaining how the identified issues have been addressed. Deborah Reed, executive director of BHA, said the commissioners approved the response to the substandard rating.

"We just had to send a letter to them as to what the corrective actions were going to be," Reed said.

24 units inspected

BHA received 18 out of 40 available points for the physical condition of its properties. A HUD spokeswoman said in December that at least one housing unit in all 17 BHA-run buildings was inspected last year. A total of 24 units were randomly selected for inspection.

BHA operates the Brookside Apartments on South Street, the Walloomsac Apartments on School Street and the Beech Court Apartments on Beech Street.

According to HUD, some the issues were minor, ranging from holes in walls to ceilings and peeling paint. Other issues were considered more serious, including units that had emergency or fire exits blocked. HUD officials also identified tripping hazards on sidewalks and windows with missing handles.

In the BHA response, Reed wrote that all health and safety deficiencies "such as blocked egresses, exposed wires in the boiler rooms and broken outlet plate covers were taken care of on the same day as the inspection."

"The staff is being diligent to make sure the BHA property is in decent, safe and sanitary condition. That is our goal," the letter reads.

Reed said the housing authority has also created a corrective action plan that includes the following things:

* The maintenance supervisor is completing weekly walks around BHA properties to observe conditions and check on residents' needs.

* The maintenance supervisor is randomly checking on completed work orders to be certain of the quality.

* The maintenance staff is holding monthly staff meetings.

* The exterior of all buildings are being pressure washed, as needed, and vinyl siding repaired.

* All health and safety issues will result in an emergency work order to be completed within 24 hours.

Reed said on Tuesday that a HUD inspector has already been through BHA properties and approved of completed work.

Contact Neal P. Goswami at ngoswami@benningtonbanner.com, or follow on Twitter: @nealgoswami