Pittsfield Housing Authority moves to make its units no-smoking


PITTSFIELD -- The Pittsfield Housing Authority is moving toward implementing a no-smoking policy at all the public housing it oversees -- an idea that's getting support from tenants, according to the executive director.

Surveys have been sent to all tenants, and "the overwhelming majority" of those responding support smoke-free housing, Executive Director Charles L. Smith Jr. told the Housing Authority on Tuesday.

Smith said his office will continue to accept surveys for a time, but hopes to begin the policy in August. Tenants would likely sign an agreement with annual leases that either accepts the policy or acknowledges that they have read it.

Following the meeting, Smith said the policy is based on one implemented last year in Boston -- the largest city in the state to approve a smoking ban in its public housing.

Part of the process used there included a survey of tenants, with about 90 percent of those responding approving, according to The Boston Globe.

The city proposal would not cover the 580 Section 8 federally subsidized housing units in Pittsfield, only housing units in the developments the authority manages. Those total about 765 units in nine large developments and several smaller facilities in the city.

Smith said that if suggestions are made for smoking outdoors on building grounds, and they are supported by the tenants at that facility, designated smoking sites might be approved.

Among aspects of the Boston smoking policy proposed in 2011 were provisions allowing for assessment of up to $250 per smoking incident, the possibility of a lease termination for continuing violations, an agreement that tenants promote the non-smoking and report violations to the landlord, and that tenants acknowledge that the non-smoking area includes all interior spaces and those outdoor areas designated by the manager in consultation with tenants.

The purpose of the Boston policy was stated as an attempt to reduce the health effects from second-hand smoke, cut the increased maintenance costs for cleaning and redecorating units, and the higher cost of fire insurance for the buildings when smoking is allowed.

Smith said educational efforts about the effects of smoking and assistance for tenants in quitting will be offered.

Also on Tuesday, the board approved a change order for the Wilson Park rehabilitation project. Smith said that during the first phase of the $12 million state-funding project, involving seven buildings, siding work was not included. However, in phase two it was, and bids for the current phase came in low enough to allow all 24 buildings to now have siding work.

The change order had been approved by the state Department of Housing and Community Development, and the PHA was asked for its consent.

Among other projects planned for the next fiscal year, through June 2014, are $70,000 in kitchen, bathroom and floor work at 15 Elm St., $571,000 for new windows on the oldest sections of the Rose Manor complex, and $120,000 for kitchen and bathroom upgrade work at the women's shelter.

Walkway and exterior stair work also is planned at Francis Plaza and at Wahconah Heights, Smith said.

The authority board also reorganized for the next year, choosing Lucille J. Reilly as chairwoman, Gerald S. Doyle Jr. as vice chairman, Arthur Butler as treasurer, and Smith as secretary.

To reach Jim Therrien:
or (413) 496-6247.
On Twitter: @BE_therrien


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