Victory for City Rent Subsidy Coalition!

Last night, the Council voted 10 to 3 to override Mayor Wu's veto, to increase the City Rent Subsidy/Voucher program by $1 million!!   
Right before the vote at 11 pm, Council President Louijeune gave a shout out to Domingo a MAHT tenant leader from the Amy Lowell House, for his moving testimony Monday night at a marathon Council hearing. Domingo was there with me today all afternoon, during the marathon voting session on mayoral overrides.  
Although I don't think Domingo had ever testified before a public body, Monday night he testified powerfully about his experience as a formerly homeless person and what a difference getting a rent subsidy voucher made in his life—Ruthzee started the debate by citing his moving story.  
During the roll call vote, to our surprise (NO ONE knew how the vote would go beforehand) Henry Santana, Enrique Pepin and Erin Murphy all voted YES to override for a $2 million 'package' amendment which included the $1 million for Vouchers.  The only 'no' votes were Ed Flynn, Sharon Durkan, and John Fitzgerald.  Our presence there tonight definitely made a difference!
Other priority programs were able to get funding, including the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute ($500,000 for mothers of murdered children), $500,000 for Councilor Webber's Right to Counsel program, and additional funds for youth jobs.  
After the vote, Domingo and I posed with Councilors Worrell, Weber, Mejia and Santana (see below).  
Prior to today, only 7 Councilors were committed to the override vote.  The first votes taken after 2 pm, indeed were unable to get 9 votes to override.  Councilor Worrell masterfully then 'repackaged' the votes to see what could pass.  The vote on adding Vouchers, was almost the last one taken for operating budget amendments—and we picked up three votes that had not seemed likely earlier in the day.  
Thanks to all City Rent Subsidy Coalition members, MAHT staff and tenant volunteers for all your great work generating calls (from Georgetowne tenants!), calling and emailing the waverers, turning out and testifying over the past several weeks!   
It all worked.  WHEN WE FIGHT, WE WIN!

MAHT 2024 Annual Meeting

On Saturday June 22, MAHT tenants and supporters gathered at the First Baptist Church in Jamaica Plain to celebrate tenant victories and elect the new board. We gave out several awards to groups and individuals for their achievements including:

The Forbes Building Tenants Association for negotiating a final affordability and repair plan, including minimum parking for residents

Georgetowne Tenants United for winning continued repairs for water leaks, mold and sewage backups and minimizing evictions for nonpayment of rent

Apple Village Tenants Association for mobilizing support for Donna Lee in her retaliatory eviction trial

ARTU for joining the LOFTE Network in its first-ever national advocacy for LIHTC tenants’ rights and winning reduction of required bank statements for rent recertification

Loring Towers Tenants Association for winning new on-site management and a commitment for Resident Service programming at Loring Towers

Warren Hall Tenants Association for their successful 13 year struggle to win new owners to save 33 at-risk apartments for lower income families

City Rent Subsidy Coalition for mobilizing support for a $5 million annual increase in City Rent Subsidies to house 270 homeless families

Lobby Leadership Team for successful turnout and testimony for Governor Healy’s Housing Bond Bill

Donna Lee for her steadfast courage and leadership in standing up to severe mobbing and harassment and fighting for tenants’ rights

We also gave award to three Boston city councilors and two state representatives. Thank you to city council president Ruthzee Louijeune, district 6 city councilor Ben Weber, and representative Mike Connelly for their support and showing up to our annual meeting.




Brighton’s Warren Hall Tenants Save Their Homes!

Tenants at Brighton’s Warren Hall will now have their 33 apartments saved as permanently affordable housing, thanks to a long sought purchase of their building by Federal Management Company (FMC) and the Allston-Brighton Community Development Corporation. 

MAHT helped tenants organize in 2011 to fight displacement as the 40 year HUD mortgage ended. Tenant leader Dave Horan had never been to Washington, D.C. or met a government official, but in 2011 joined MAHT’s delegation to a national tenant conference.  Dave spoke with HUD and Capitol Hill officials to help pass amendments which saved up to 60,000 apartments nationwide, including rent vouchers at Warren Hall.  MAHT won the first ever Resident Organizing Award from the National Low Income Housing Coalition for this achievement. 

While tenants were able to stay, the distant New York corporate owner proved incapable of making vital health and safety repairs.  Described as a ‘death trap’, Warren Hall tenants suffered multiple floods and ceiling collapses as the aging roof leaked into apartments below.  For years, tenants urged Rick Henken of FMC to buy the building from the New York owners, who refused to sell until early 2024.  With strong support from the City of Boston, FMC and ABCDC finally bought the building in March. Emergency roof repairs are planned soon!   

Dave Horan: An Advocate to Win Vouchers for Warren Hall

From 2012:

Dave Horan has lived at Warren Hall for 15 years. He still works at Stop and Shop in Allston. Before tenants organized, Dave had never met a government official, let alone been in Washington DC. But in June 2011, Dave joined the Massachusetts delegation to the National Alliance of HUD Tenants Conference in DC.                                                                                                                                                 

Dave spoke personally to HUD’s Margaret Salazar regarding the contracts at Warren Hall and won a commitment for vouchers for all 33 units. HUD awarded the vouchers in the fall.

Dave recalls that this historic building that was built in 1789 and was a commercial center in Bright-on and remains so as a mixed-use building today. Dave can remember when the Warren Hall Building was used as a dance hall in the 1970's and recycled into affordable housing.

Dave also advocates for the welfare of his neighbors and wants the Warren Hall Building to contuue to be used as affordable housing for "future generations".

Dave made a second trip to DC in March, where he joined the Mass Alliance of HUD Tenants in receiving the first ever Resident Organizing Award from the National Low Income Housing Coalition for winning support from Sen. Scott Brown for full fund-ing from HUD, and passage of the Merkley-Brown Amendment to help save Warren Hall.

City Rent Subsidy Coalition Seeks Program Increase

On Monday May 20th members of the City Rent Subsidy Coalition testified at the Boston City Council committee on Ways and Means FY25 budget hearing in support of increasing the program funding by $5 million to support more families. We specifically want to prioritize parents with children in the Boston Public School system.
We heard from the Boston Housing Authority, Mayor's Office of Housing, and the Office of Housing Stability about current housing funding and the need for more affordable housing.
Two currently homeless individuals were able to underscore the need for more affordable housing and a more streamlined process to navigate the process of applying for affordable housing.
You can watch the full video here: Public testimony starts at 5:20 and again at 2:38:00

MAHT Supports Governor Healy's Housing Bond Bill

On Thursday January 19, MAHT joined a chorus of community and legislative representatives to support Governor Healey’s $4.1 billion Housing Bond bill at a packed hearing of the Joint Committee on Housing!
In particular, MAHT supported the provisions in the bill that would most benefit low income tenants, such as $1.6 billion for Public Housing; the Local Option for Real Estate Transfer Fees, that would generate funds for low income tenants; and Eviction Sealing and Fair Housing legislation.  
MAHT also urged the Committee to “codify” and increase funds for the Mass Rental Voucher Program to increase the portion of new housing that could be available for extremely low income tenants, beyond the 4,000 (out of 37,000) new rental housing units in the bill. 
MAHT Board member Rana Jezzini also made a passionate appeal to add no-cost legislation to Lift the Ban on Rent Control and allow local governments to regulate rents and evictions.
See MAHT’s testimony here. Watch MAHT’s Michael Kane and Rana Jezzini testify here. Testimony starts at 9:52:30

40th Anniversary Holiday Celebration

We had a fun time celebrating the holidays and the many accomplishments over the last 6 months at our holiday party on December 16th. Thank you to everyone who came out to celebrate with us. We were proud to recognize the leaders and organizers who were apart of our successes including

The Forbes Building for winning a written commitment to preserve 147 apartments for low income tenants for 40 years

Georgetowne Tenants United for winning major repairs for water leaks, mold and sewage backups and zero evictions for nonpayment of rent for more than 18 months.

Apple Village Tenants Association for courageously standing up to severe management harassment and bullying.

Advocating Rights for Tenants Union (ART-U) for winning improved maintenance, security  and building management.

Loring Towers Tenants Association for transforming on-site management and winning real results from  Related Company on water quality, mold and building security.

Civic Engagement and Rent Control Team for collecting more than 2,500 voter signatures to  Lift the Ban on Rent Control.

Lobby Leadership Team for successful turnout and testimony  to Lift the Ban on Rent Control at the Statehouse.




Update on Forbes Building

Forbes Owner to Seek 97% Affordability!

On September 22, All City Management (owner of the Forbes Building) submitted a proposal to the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) for an Article 80 Zoning approval for the Forbes. The proposal commits ACM to seek 97% affordable housing for the Forbes, for at least 40 years! Although ACM had previously promised verbally to preserve affordable housing, this was the first time this has been put in writing!

On October 10, ACM representatives clarified they intend to seek a total of 87 additional Mass
Rental Voucher Program (MRVP) subsidies, in addition to the 37 already in the building. The remaining Forbes units would be “capped” at subsidized Tax Credit rent limits, substantially below true market rents. The MRVP and Tax Credit contracts would be for 40 and 30 years, respectively. If approved, this would achieve FBTA goals of preserving the long-time mixed income, affordable character of the Forbes.

The BPDA proposal is a first step. ACM has also submitted a proposal to the City of Boston and
the State for additional subsidies to achieve this new goal. Our information is that ACM is asking for a reasonable amount, but we won’t know for sure until December. The FBTA continues to press ACM to apply for 67 MRVP subsidies NOW, to lower rents for low-income tenants paying more than 30% of income for rent.

Owner Proposes Reduction of Parking at Forbes to 6 Spaces!

The rest of ACM’s proposal to the BPDA focuses on proposed changes to the building envelop and site plan. The FBTA supports most of the environmental and repair outline that has been released to date. However, the owner’s Plan would reduce parking spaces at Forbes to only 6, converting the rest of the spaces for “green” shrubbery and grounds. The FBTA is firmly opposed to this reduction and asks for tenant and community support to oppose this.

Another LOFTE Victory!

On October 3, Rep. Delia Ramirez (D-IL) filed the Right to Organize Act, with nine co-sponsors!!  The bill would extend an enforceable Right to Organize, modeled on 24 CFR Part 245, to Voucher and LIHTC tenants, and provide Section 514 organizing money to locally based coalitions to organize the unorganized tenants in their communities.  

Michael Kane helped to draft the original bill with former Rep. Levin's office last fall.  Organized by Susie Shannon of Housing Is a Human Right, several LOFTE reps (MAHT; HJN of MN; TTU) and Rod Wilson from the Lugenia Burns Hope Center won support for the bill from several Members of Congress in DC in April; Rep. Ramirez and Tlaib agreed to be lead sponsors.   LOFTE groups helped refine the bill that was filed October 3.  

So far, other sponsors are Pressley (D-MA), Gomez (D-CA), Cesar (D-TX, Bowman (D-NY), Crockett (D-TX), Scakowsky (D-IL), Lee (D-CA), Norton (DC), and Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). 

Thanks to all LOFTE groups that signed on as endorsers and helped line up Congressional support! 

Join the Movement to Lift the Ban on Rent Control

In 1994, Massachusetts outlawed any attempt to regulate market rents or evictions. Todays unprecedented housing emergency is the result!

At the Statehouse, legislative leaders have declared their opposition to any regulations on market rents. It is now clear that a ballot referendum is the only way to Lift the Ban so local governments can act!

On September 6, the Attorney General approved an Initiative Petition filed by Rep. Connolly and 15 other voters to Lift the Ban and allow local governments to protect tenants. A recent poll shows 65% of voters in all parts of the state support Lifting the Ban; only 28% are opposed! You can read the results in this article: Massachusetts voters want rent control option - CommonWealth Magazine.

If we can get 80,000+ signatures by November 22, 2023, the referendum could go on the ballot in 2024--a high turnout Presidential Election when it is most likely to pass. We can't afford to wait till 2026 or a later date!! A growing statewide movement is mobilizing now to collect these signatures!

Here is where you come in!

MAHT is coordinating outreach in Boston, but the Campaign needs help everywhere! Volunteers can sign up on the Rent Control 2024 Website from anywhere in the State! The website it run by Rep Mike Connolly and campaign coordinator Art Gordon. There are a number of events listed on the website you can sign up for to collect signatures. Great places to collect signatures are farmers markets, block parties, festivals, shopping centers, and grocery stores.

If you can help MAHT collect signatures in Boston or want to learn more, leave a message for MAHT Petition Coordinator Mike McDonough at 617-522-5133x15 or [email protected]. Petitions are now available at the MAHT office at 42 Seaverns Avenue in Jamaica Plain (near JP Licks) for pick up!

Here some links to further information about this process

Petition Text article about petition filing

Boston Globe article about the language being certified

Checklist for Gathering Signatures