NEW BEDFORD — Amid rising evictions and a controversy over surveillance of public housing residents, New Bedford's housing authority is in the process of upgrading its video cameras.

The New Bedford Housing Authority — which receives funding from federal and state housing departments — has come under scrutiny in a Washington Post article this week about public housing agencies surveilling residents for rule-breaking.

Two New Bedford residents interviewed in the article said they were watched for behavior like smoking too close to buildings, fighting, and letting someone stay too long; one was ultimately evicted and the other allegedly pressured to leave.

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An NBHA representative told the Washington Post that the agency tries to work with residents to avoid evictions, but noted that video footage is often used as evidence in housing court.

New Bedford Police Chief Paul Oliveira told WBSM News that the police department's access to housing authority cameras is "primarily used by officers in conjunction with active criminal investigations."

He noted that the department requests NBHA surveillance video footage in the same way it requests surveillance footage from city businesses or homeowners.

Evictions in New Bedford

Evictions across the country have skyrocketed since a pandemic-era moratorium expired in 2021, and New Bedford is no exception.

According to eviction data from, New Bedford saw 1,093 evictions filed in housing court in 2022 — up 28% from the 851 cases filed in 2021.

It is unclear how many of those cases were filed by the NBHA.

But the southeastern Massachusetts housing court lists 101 cases filed by the NBHA so far in 2023 alone.

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Surveillance Upgrades Ongoing

Meanwhile the housing authority has an $863,000 project in the works to upgrade its video camera surveillance systems.

NBHA Executive Director Steven Beauregard told WBSM News that the upgrades are around 50% complete, and do not involve facial recognition software.

Instead, Beauregard said, the project includes an infrastructure upgrade as well as simply adding more cameras.

Of the NBHA's more than 30 properties, ten are receiving the upgrades, including some of the city's largest public housing complexes: Brickenwood, Shawmut Village, Presidential Heights, and Bay Village, as well as Ben Rose, Westlawn, DeMedeiros, Satellite Village, Dottin Place, and Hillside Court.

Work started after the contract was awarded to Cranston-based Shanix Technology in December.

Beauregard also commented that the Washington Post article had a particular "slant."

He was not immediately able to comment further, or respond to questions about the authority's use of the cameras in general, although he did say a more detailed response is forthcoming.

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