The Newton Housing Authority is governed by a board of commissioners. Commissioners are appointed in accordance with state housing law and generally serve in the same capacity as the directors of a corporation. Commissioners establish policies under which the Newton Housing Authority conducts business, and ensures that those policies are followed by Housing Authority staff. The board is responsible for preserving and expanding the agency’s resources and assuring the agency’s continued viability and success. Formal actions of the Newton Housing Authority are taken through written resolutions, adopted by the board and entered into the official records of the Housing Authority.

The current commissioners are as follows:

Richard Bitondo Chairperson
Joseph Riccardi Commissioner
Wendy Vandermass Commissioner
Karen Crossley Vice Chairman
Mary Ann Carlson Resident Commissioner
Mark Fiedorczyk Commissioner

In accordance with the Open Public Meetings Act, notice of these public meetings was given to the newspaper of record and posted on the official bulletin board. The Board of Commissioners typically meets on the 2nd Monday of each month, unless there is a holiday, and then the meeting is the following Monday. These meetings are held at 5:00PM in the Community Room at Liberty Towers, located at 32 Liberty Street, Newton.

The New Jersey Redevelopment and Housing Law of 1992 requires all commissioners to complete a comprehensive training program consisting of required and elective courses. Under NJSA 40A:12A-45, commissioners must complete their training within eighteen months of appointment. A certificate of recognition is awarded to participants who successfully complete the program.

The complete course of study provides commissioners with the opportunity to enhance the knowledge and skills necessary to oversee the operations of housing authorities. This series of courses is designed to clarify the scope of authority and decision-making responsibilities. It also familiarizes commissioners with state-of-the-art techniques and procedures for managing public housing units and redevelopment activities.

While there are four required courses, commissioners are given the ability to choose an additional elective. The courses are as follows:

Required Courses:

Skills for Commissioners (one day)

This one-day seminar clarifies the commissioner’s role and focuses on the management and communication skills required to be an effective board member. Topics include the history of public housing, ethical considerations, setting policy vs. administering policy, and the board’s relationship with the executive director. General board development issues such as effective communication, cooperative decision-making, and problem-solving techniques are covered also.

Ethics (one day)

This full-day session focuses on the nature of the public trust and the “rules” for ethical behavior which are relevant for public housing authority and redevelopment officials. New Jersey law and HUD regulations are examined and applied to ethical issues faced by BOTH commissioners and executive directors using a case study approach.

Financial Issues and Procedures (one day)

Financial issues are central to the public housing commissioner’s responsibilities. This one-day program covers the basic accounting and legal requirements imposed by HUD and NJDCA in plain language so that commissioners will clearly understand their fiduciary obligations on behalf of the housing authority. The budget preparation process, and reporting and audit requirements are reviewed in detail.

PHAS and SEMAP (one day)

This session, open to BOTH executive directors and commissioners, covers the Public Housing Assessment System (PHAS) and the Section 8 Management Assessment Program (SEMAP). The indicators in both evaluation systems are explained in detail, including how each is measured and graded. The use of PHAS and SEMAP as management tools for improving housing authority performance is highlighted.

Commissioners may choose one (1) of the following electives:

Design Principles for Redevelopment Projects (half day)

This half-day session provides a brief introduction to New Jersey’s State Development and Redevelopment Plan, focusing on its physical planning and design policies. These “bricks and mortar” policies promote compact, mixed-use, human-scale, and pedestrian- and transit-friendly development in our downtowns and neighborhoods. The presentation, which combines slides, lecture and hands-on exercises, is particularly relevant for redevelopment agency executive directors.

Legal Issues (one day)

Instructors: Harold George, Esq., Sumners George, P.C.; and Dallas Parks
This seminar is an elective open to BOTH executive directors and commissioners and is intended to provide a practical overview of state statutes and federal legal requirements pertaining to housing authorities. Five major topic areas are covered: tenancy and evictions, Section 8 contracts and leases, personnel rights and responsibilities, contractual agreements, and general litigation and liability.

Planning & Development of Affordable Housing (one day)

Nontraditional development opportunities for housing authorities are explored in this one-day course, including housing provided under the state’s Mount Laurel requirements. Strategies for developing housing within a wide range of affordability are discussed, and the household income levels established by various federal and state programs are described. Specific attention is given to the “how-to” of establishing and working with nonprofit corporations.

Principles of Redevelopment (one day)

Housing authorities and redevelopment agencies have a stake in the creation and maintenance of safe, livable neighborhoods and the expansion of economic opportunities in their communities. This course offers executive directors and commissioners from BOTH agencies a comprehensive overview of the redevelopment process along with the planning and financing strategies that are essential to successful revitalization efforts.

Procurement for Commissioners (one day)

This one-day course provides commissioners with a basic understanding of their role in establishing procurement policy and monitoring the housing authority’s expenditures. HUD regulations and New Jersey procurement laws are reviewed with a focus on the oversight responsibilities of the board of commissioners.

Public Relations/Communications (one day)

When should a housing authority hold a press conference? Who are the local media, and what do they want? This useful program addresses these questions and more, including image building and managing the media during a crisis. The roles of the commissioner and the executive director in dealing with the media are discussed, and many “how-to” tips are given.

Strategic Planning (one day)

This offering is designed to provide commissioners and executive directors with a basic understanding of strategic planning concepts and the critical elements of a successful planning process. The requirements of HUD’s 5-Year Agency Plan and Annual Plan are reviewed, and a step-by-step approach to developing both plans is presented. The executive director’s leadership role and the board’s responsibilities are identified and discussed in practical terms. All of the topics are presented in the context of HUD’s new asset management and project -based accounting requirements.

Tenant-Based Assistance Programs (one day)

This full-day course provides an overview of the Housing Choice Voucher program and presents basic information about the operational requirements. It is intended to offer BOTH executive directors and commissioners guidance on how to design and implement a tenant-based assistance program, and covers such issues as tenant selection priorities, the calculation of subsidies, and housing quality standards.