Police Officers Living in Public Housing

Joshua Dankoff filed this request with the Fall River Housing Authority of Fall River, MA.
Status
Completed

Communications

From: Joshua Dankoff

Michael J. Sousa, General Counsel
Fall River Housing Authority
85 Morgan Street
Fall River, Massachusetts 02721
mike.sousa@fallriverha.org:

Pursuant to the Massachusetts Public Records Law, I hereby request the following records:

1. Rules, policies, or other practice documents concerning residency restrictions for police officers, command staff, and other police staff. If residency restrictions allow for a waiver, then records for each year from 2016 through 2021 that reflect
(a) the number of residency rule waivers applied,
(b) the stated reason for the residency waiver, and
(c) the outcome of the residency waiver.

2. Rules, policies, or other practice documents from your municipality that lay out whether police department staff (including officers) can receive housing subsidies and/or live in public housing, even if they do not qualify under the income guidelines.

3. Records that indicate for each year from 2016 through 2021 how many police department staff (including officers and staff of all ranks) live in public housing, and the name of the housing development where the officer lives. This can either be a snapshot on January 1st of each year 2016 through 2021, or a summary of the entire period

4. Records that indicate housing allowances or other subsidized housing (not already covered in question 3 above) provided to police department staff (including officers and command staff) in your or another municipality.

The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.

In the event that there are fees, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter.

I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 10 business days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Joshua Dankoff

From:

Good afternoon Mr. Dankoff,

I hope this email finds you well. Pursuant to your recent correspondence dated April 16, 2021, and received by my office on April 30, 2021, regarding your request for Public Information under the Massachusetts Public Records Law, G.L. c. 4, §7, clause 26, and G.L. c. 66, §10, that you directed to my attention, and in conformity with my required response date to be "within 10 days of receipt of your request," I am submitting this email to you at the email address you provided in your request for information.

I will state that your contact information is suspicious, however, I will simply answer the questions that relate to the FRHA. The documents in Sections 1 and 2 of your request should be presented to a municipality itself, rather than a Housing Authority. With regard to question 3, I am unable to confirm or deny the identity of any Fall River housing residents due to tenant privacy rights. With regard to question 4, the question supersedes the scope of FRHA documents and is not a validly presented question.

If you are looking for further information, please provide me with a valid telephone number and a clarify the validation of your email address. This request for information is hereby considered closed.

Sincerely,

Michael J. Sousa, Esquire

Records Access Officer

From: Joshua Dankoff

Dear Mr Sousa,
Thank you for the reply. I'm not sure why the contact information is suspicious. I am using the muckrock website as a means to organize my public records requests; the website creates a unique email address for each records request. That said, I am happy to have a phone conversation with you to discuss.

I accept your answers to questions 1 and 2. While I find question 4 validly presented, I accept that this may be outside the scope of FRHA.

Further to question 3, however, I am not interested in nor does the question ask for identifying information for any of the tenants. Rather, the question aims to determine whether the city has a program to allow over income police officers to live in public housing (further to 24 CFR § 960.505), and the extent of that program over recent years.

Thank you,
Josh

From: Fall River Housing Authority

I hope this email finds you well. Pursuant to your recent correspondence dated April 16, 2021, and received by my office on April 30, 2021, regarding your request for Public Information under the Massachusetts Public Records Law, G.L. c. 4, §7, clause 26, and G.L. c. 66, §10, that you directed to my attention, and in conformity with my required response date to be "within 10 days of receipt of your request," I am submitting this email to you at the email address you provided in your request for information.

Good Morning Mr. Dankoff,

I accept your answers to questions 1 and 2. While I find question 4 validly presented, I accept that this may be outside the scope of FRHA.

Further to question 3, however, I am not interested in nor does the question ask for identifying information for any of the tenants. Rather, the question aims to determine whether the city has a program to allow over income police officers to live in public housing (further to 24 CFR § 960.505), and the extent of that program over recent years.

3. Records that indicate for each year from 2016 through 2021 how many police department staff (including officers and staff of all ranks) live in public housing, and the name of the housing development where the officer lives. This can either be a snapshot on January 1st of each year 2016 through 2021, or a summary of the entire period

4. Records that indicate housing allowances or other subsidized housing (not already covered in question 3 above) provided to police department staff (including officers and command staff) in your or another municipality.

From: Fall River Housing Authority

Subject: RE: Massachusetts Public Records Law Request: Police Officers Living in Public Housing

Good Morning Mr. Dankoff,

I appreciate the follow-up correspondence clarifying your request which is stipulated below. My apologies for the curtness of my prior email, it was held in a spam folder and the usual protocol is that when the FRHA receives a request for public information, we are entitled to receive the name and contact of an individual / agency that is requesting the information. In addition, the email address that you have provided is not name-specific, which prompted my suspicions. I am not familiar with Muckrock News.
With regard to your reference of 24 CFR § 960.505 – these HUD regulations cite a specific legitimate program which says the following: Occupancy by police officers to provide security for public housing residents. (a) Police officer. For purpose of this subpart E, “police officer” means a person determined by the PHA to be, during the period of residence of that person in public housing, employed on a full-time basis as a duly licensed professional police officer by a Federal, State or local government or by any agency of these governments. An officer of an accredited police force of a housing agency may qualify. And (b) Occupancy in public housing. For the purpose of increasing security for residents of a public housing development, the PHA may allow police officers who would not otherwise be eligible for occupancy in public housing, to reside in a public housing dwelling unit. The PHA must include in the PHA annual plan or supporting documents the number and location of the units to be occupied by police officers, and the terms and conditions of their tenancies; and a statement that such occupancy is needed to increase security for public housing residents.
That being said, after receiving and reviewing your email requesting a clarification of your request for Public Information under the Massachusetts Public Records Law, M.G.L. c. 4, §7, clause 26, and G.L. c. 66, §10, the answer is that the City of Fall River and the Fall River Housing Authority do not have a program to allow over-income police officers to live in public housing developments. Also, I have looked into whether we have ever participated in this program over the course of the past 20 years (I have been General Counsel for the FRHA for the past 14 years) and the answer is that we have not.

With reference to the statutory requirement that the program must be included in each PHA’s Annual Plan, you are more than welcome to visit our website at fallriverha.org where our annual plans are posted for the public to view. If you need any further information, please do not hesitate to ask.

Sincerely,

Michael J. Sousa, Esq.
General Counsel
FRHA Public Information Officer

Dear Mr Sousa,
I accept your answers to questions 1 and 2. While I find question 4 validly presented, I accept that this may be outside the scope of FRHA.

Further to question 3, however, I am not interested in nor does the question ask for identifying information for any of the tenants. Rather, the question aims to determine whether the city has a program to allow over income police officers to live in public housing (further to 24 CFR § 960.505), and the extent of that program over recent years.

Thank you,
Josh
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From: Joshua Dankoff

Dear Mr. Sousa,
Thank you for your response on the topic. I have no further clarifying questions.
Best,
Josh

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