By Carol McCracken (:Post # 2,414)
Art Howe has been hired to serve as Portland’s first Housing Safety Administrator according to a press release issued today by the City. Howe will begin his new position on Monday, September 28th. Howe will oversee the city’s new Housing Safety Office, (HSO) that the city created on June 25, 2015. His salary is $75,000. annually.
In addition to the new Administrator and inspectors who will be cross-trained in code enforcement and fire safety, the HSO is charged with implementing a risk-based prioritization process for inspections, conducting inspections and overseeing and enforcing the revised landlord registration ordinance, which will require landlords to pay $35. to register each unit they own beginning January 1, 2016.
The city’s task force was formed by former acting city manager Sheila Hill-Christian in response to a major fire at 20-24 Noyes Street which resulted in multiple deaths. The fire occurred last November 1, 2014. The Task Force became controversial when Christian failed to seat a tenant at the table, although other representatives of the population were aptly represented; landlords and city officials specifically.
Mr. Howe is currently the president of Howe Safety Services, which provides outdoor and risk management consultant services. He recently relocated to South Portland from Massachusetts. He has 37 years of direct five service experience, including 5 years as Fire Chief in Ipswich, MA., 20 years as an NFPA Fire Inspector 1, and time as a Fire Safety Code Inspector in Connecticut.
At the city council meeting on Monday, October 5th, the Council will discuss a proposed set of discounts to the landlord registration fee. Public comment will be taken.
“I’m very excited that Art is coming on board to help us establish the HSO,” said city manager Jon Jennings, “He has the background and expertise to hit the ground running and he shares my commitment to public safety through safe housing. The creation of this office has been a priority of mIne since becoming city manager and I look forward to seeing its progress in the coming months.”