Local housing authorities

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I’ve been working on a story regarding the Bayard Housing Authority the last few days. It’s been convoluted, to say the least. For example: nobody at City Hall, nor do the staff at the Housing Authority, nor does one of members of the Housing Authority board of directors, know where a copy of the authority’s bylaws is kept.

I literally can’t seem to find one. And, apparently, nobody else can find one either.

This has been something of a problem, since it looks like the Bayard City Council and Mayor Rodolpho Martinez are trying to take on some of the power usually reserved by the authority’s board of directors.

Here’s my story (PDF).

The bright side to all this: the New Mexico Attorney General’s office. In the past, when I called regarding a matter of state law, I usually received a straight up “we can’t comment.”

This time, however, spokesman Phil Sisneros and David Thompson (the litigation division director) were back on the phone with me right away. They’re still working on an answer (and admitted they may not have one) but it’s still a huge step in the right direction.

Meanwhile, head over to Heath’s place for info on what’s happening with the regional housing authorities:

Lt. Gov. Diane Denish signed into law today a bill designed to stabilize the state’s scandal-plagued regional housing authority system while officials determine the next course of action.

“It is a good day,” Denish said after the bill signing.

The bill takes effect immediately, so the housing authorities have been stripped of bonding authority and now have significant oversight. The legislation doesn’t help restart authorities in Albuquerque and Las Cruces that have shut down. It instead places immediate checks on those that are still functioning and funds an audit of the system to determine the appropriate course of action.

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