DRACUT — The Dracut Housing Authority has earned a 98 on a physical inspection from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for one of its developments.
“I’m very happy. It’s an excellent mark and I feel as though my staff worked very hard to achieve it,” said Mary Karabatsos, Housing Authority executive director. “We have these inspections once every three years and, for that particular development, I believe it was 2014 when we received a 94 and we brought it up to a 98.”
Karabatsos said the inspection in the 44-unit development at 65 Phineas St. was conducted on Oct. 10.
“They look at our portfolio and they make sure all of our safety and security issues are taken care of,” she said. “They focus on quality of life for the residents that are living in the units.”
Rhonda Siciliano, public affairs officer for the New England region of HUD, said Dracut’s score is very good.
“There’s a lot of work that goes into getting a score like that, so they should feel very proud of their efforts,” Siciliano said.
Dracut is a small public housing authority and only required to be inspected every other year, she said.
The physical inspection, Siciliano noted, is one piece of an overall system called the Public Housing Assessment System, or PHAS. The Dracut Housing Authority also earned a 98 PHAS score.
In Tewksbury, authority Executive Director Melissa Maniscalco said the body’s last federal inspection grade was a 97 in April 2015.
The Lowell Housing Authority most recently earned a 91 PHAS score, which gives the body a high performer designation.
In Tyngsboro, Housing Authority Executive Director Melinda Theide said the body does not have federal housing units, only state, so it does not get inspections from HUD. The same applies to Westford. According to Siciliano, Chelmsford and Billerica have only Section 8 housing choice vouchers.
There are many aspects that are checked during the federal physical inspection, such as heating systems and making sure there are no fire entrances being blocked, Siciliano said.
“When we do these assessments, we want to make sure that these properties are healthy, safe, and sanitary for the residents that live there,” she added.
Back in Dracut, Karabatsos credited her maintenance staff of three employees for the score.
“We have a very good staff,” she said. “They’re very focused and professional.”
As a body, Karabatsos said the Housing Authority is more proactive and more focused because staff is familiar with this inspection.
“I’ve been here 10 years and I believe that since I first got here we’ve increased that score by 20 points,” she said. “It was 78 when I got here… we’re just making sure we stay on top of it.”
In late October, Michael Hubert, one of the maintenance workers for the Dracut Housing Authority, stood near the entrance of the development at 65 Phineas St. after adjusting the fall decorations framing the development’s large sign.
“I’m proud,” he said. “I’m proud of everyone — the effort that everybody contributed to it. It’s not a reflection on me, it’s a reflection on the housing.”
Follow Amaris Castillo on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.