Jo Anne Preston for Housing Authority

Letters to the Editor

Originally Published March 19, 2020 in the Arlington Advocate

It is my pleasure to write here in support of Jo Anne Preston’s candidacy for the board of directors of the Arlington Housing Authority.

Affordable housing has become a leading issue of concern on the local as well as the state level. In the Boston metro area, an average person would have to make $34 per hour working full-time just to afford a one-bedroom apartment at fair market rent, according the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Yet the average hourly salary in our Massachusetts is $15.80. The scarcity of affordable housing in our town means that the Arlington Housing Authority, one of the two main suppliers of affordable housing in Arlington (besides the Housing Corp of Arlington), is a critical agency in satiating overwhelming demand. In addition to the five properties under its domain, AHA also runs the Section 8 housing choice voucher program that serves hundreds (if not thousands) of people across the state.

Part of ensuring that affordable housing is accessible and equitable is having dedicated and compassionate Board members who care about present and prospective tenants and voucher holders of the AHA. In that vein, Preston is the perfect candidate. A former tenants rights activist, Preston is also a retired social worker with Medical Aid to the Aged, a volunteer with the Council on Again, and has a Ph.D. focusing in gerontology — all invaluable experiences considering that a high proportion of AHA tenants are seniors. She is an active Town Meeting member, which means she also understands the basics of local governance.

AHA board members have a recent reputation for being relatively non-responsive to tenants and generally hard to reach. Preston has vowed to be communicative and available to tenants and local voucher holders. She has also pledged to be proactive in seeking ways to expand and maximize affordable housing options through the AHA here in our town. Finally, Preston’s addition to the AHA will add some much-needed gender diversity to a board currently comprised entirely of men.

— Asia Kepka, Silk Street