Over a month ago, we learned of the passing of the Honorable Norma L. Shapiro just short of her 88th birthday. The ensuing weeks have been a time of intensive reflection at the CHA.
Judge Shapiro’s involvement with Chester and its Housing Authority dates back to the late 1980s. After hearing the case of CHA residents against the Authority, also known as Velez v. Cisneros, she ruled in their (the residents’) favor. This landmark decision did not, however, end the Judge’s involvement. She continued to oversee the CHA’s operations until 2014, first employing the services of Robert Rosenberg of New York, largely for the rebuild, then turning operations over to Yours truly in 2005.
Her oversight was no idle glance. She wanted to know everything and opined on it all. She had ruled in favor of the residents and they were to be favored throughout. Buildings were knocked down and rebuilt, as were lives. Once that took place, the Judge saw to it that structures would be maintained and the organization sustained. All who fell under her leadership felt her force. She was a hard boss but a loved and revered one. She set a tone for hard work, honesty and integrity that will take a lot to undo. For years to come and perhaps longer, when people refer to the Chester Housing Authority and its renaissance as a public service organization, they will always refer to “The Judge.”