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Report: People With Special Needs Live In Squalid Public Housing

This article is more than 9 years old.

A report by the state auditor (PDF) finds that people with special needs live in squalid conditions at state-funded public housing throughout Massachusetts.

The report includes a photograph from the Somerville Housing Authority with the caption "17 Monmouth St — Mold and mildew in the basement"
The report includes a photograph from the Somerville Housing Authority with the caption "17 Monmouth St — Mold and mildew in the basement"

Inspectors visited so-called Chapter 689 units in 30 communities statewide, including Boston, Barnstable and Somerville.

Among the conditions they found: mold, broken tiles, overgrown yards and animal infestation.

"As a result of these deficiencies, many special needs residents are being deprived of the much-needed safe, decent, and sanitary housing that the law mandates," the report said.

The report was conducted to see if conditions had improved from an earlier audit, which also showed poor maintenance.

The report blames insufficient subsidies from the state Department of Housing and Community Development. It notes that federally subsidized units are generally in better condition.

Lydia Agro, a spokeswoman for the Boston Housing Authority, agrees that there are maintenance problems, and that an annual $2,000 per-unit state subsidy is not enough.

"Those numbers are too low. They're too low to appropriately maintain those properties the way they need to be maintained. The state auditor is right. We agree with him," she said.

The report acknowledges that budget constraints have made it difficult to properly fund the units.

State housing officials did not return calls for comment.

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This program aired on February 24, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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