Ashby Place Welcomes Resident Services Coordinator Muriel Portugal

After a successful ice cream social in the afternoon, attended by approximately 30 residents of Ashby Place, the Bedford Housing Authority (BHA) held its monthly meeting on Tuesday evening at 7 pm. Updates on the Life Management Program, a new Resident Services Coordinator, and ongoing maintenance projects were on the agenda.

Introduction of the Resident Services Coordinator was the focal point of the meeting, and Brenda Peacock, Executive Director of the BHA, proudly outlined the new position and introduced Muriel Portugal, the agency’s new hire. Portugal will begin visiting Ashby Place on Thursdays to connect senior residents to resources including in-home health assistance, home repairs, and navigating the Commonwealth’s programs and services, among other services. Her position was made possible by a grant from the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). The DHCD awarded funds jointly to the towns of Acton, Lexington, Concord, and Bedford, and consequently Portugal will spend one day per week in each town, working with eligible residents. Thursday will be her Bedford day, and she will be available in the Ashby Place community center from 9 am to 2 pm.

Several residents weighed in on their difficulties working with Minuteman Senior Services. Peacock assured them that Portugal would be able to help them resolve issues like these. Board member Kathleen Smith asked whether Portugal would be going door to door to screen residents to qualify for services. Director Peacock said that was not her understanding but added that she expects to refer residents to Portugal for assistance. She did note that. Portugal would be able to visit residents in their units, as well as being available by phone and in the community center during her Thursday hours.

The services provided by the new Resident Services Coordinator complement the Life Management Program already running at Ashby Place. Under this program, families can take advantage of classes in everything from earning a degree to financial coaching to getting a driver’s license. Peacock reported that residents currently in the program are working on CPR and home health aide certificates, as well as English as a Second Language classes, and first-time homebuyer workshops. Community Teamwork Inc. (CTI) administers the Life Management Program, which only serves families. Portugal’s addition to the staff should allow BHA to extend similar help to their senior residents at the community.

Other business included updates on repairs and construction projects at the complex, monthly expenditures, and the BHA’s response to an Open Meeting Law complaint filed by a resident. Peacock updated the board members on that situation, which the BHA has addressed through their regional attorney. The board members inquired about some of the specifics of the complaint; Peacock clarified that their attorney found that the BHA was either already in compliance or had outlined steps to rectify any misunderstandings. She advised that their attorney’s letter was submitted to the Attorney General’s office, which has acknowledged receipt. The complainant has 90 days to resubmit their complaint if they are not satisfied with the BHA’s response.

Before adjourning at 7:30 p.m., there was time for the board to respond to questions and comments from several senior residents who attended the meeting. The updates were well-received all around, and the board concluded its business for the summer. The Housing Authority will resume its 2nd Tuesday of the month meetings in September.

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