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.
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.
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!
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
The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) is considering nationwide standards for tenants rights to rental properties with federally backed mortgages. The LOFTE Network, 20 locally based areawide nonprofit tenant organizing groups across the country has weighed in with 7 recommendations which are:
- Extend and enforce a federally guaranteed right to organize based on 24 CFR Part 245, Subpart B which covers multifamily housing.
- Outlaw discrimination based on source of income as many landlords refuse to rent to low-income tenants and few jurisdictions have law prohibiting discrimination.
- Provide just cause for eviction as many tenants live in fear of being evicted.
- Prohibit rent gauging and only allow reasonable rent increased to provide stability to tenants.
- Require the strongest state/local tenants rights protections nationwide as different states have different laws and there should be nationwide standards.
- Adopt uniform standards for decent safe and sanitary housing using the National Standards for the Physical Inspection of Real Estate as a reference.
- Provide tenants with access to information like tenants’ rights and information about important changes in the building so tenants can better partner with owners.
You can read the full recommendations here. It is the hope that the combined experience within the LOFTE Network with be noticed and these recommendations will be taken into serious consideration.
It was June so that meant it was time for the MAHT Annual Meeting.
This year's meeting was unlike any previous MAHT meeting. It was the milestone anniversary meeting of MAHT turning 40!
An good and productive time was had that Saturday morning with recognition awards given out to several tenant groups (some of them new) and the MAHT Civic Engagement Team (Thanks Ivonne, Art, Cheryl, Louis, Rob, Laura, Cherai, Carmen, Eric, Prendee and others). Plus there was the election of the new MAHT board pictured at left.
Mary Yeaton, one of the founders of MAHT was also in attendance. She walked us all down memory lane with a fascinating speech on those early days and the formation of MAHT. We expect to have more of Mary and other memories and reflections of MAHT, its history and victories, as the year moves on.
Happy 40th Anniversary MAHT!
On Monday, June 26th, 16 MAHT tenants helped pack a State House hearing room to get the bullying bill passed. In 2017, Governor Baker appointed a commission to study ways to prevent bullying in senior and handicapped housing. MAHT was appointed to the Working Group on Best Practices and Legislation to help create a bill to stop the bullying.
Watch MAHT tenant groups from Beverly, Salem, Acton, and Lowell testify starting at around 1:02.
You too can help by calling the State House and ask your Senate and House rep to Support bill S. 887 in particular. Take a look at the bills fact sheet for more info and then make that call.
Sunday June 25th was a warm, if not hot, summer's day but that did not deter MAHT and MAHT tenants from getting out and participating in Open Streets Boston, the Jamaica Plain version.
A closed off Centre Street became crowded with hundreds and hundreds of Sunday strollers, young and old, tiny and tall, stretching their legs and taking back the streets for pedestrians only.
MAHT set up its table, strategically located, just across from the Forbes Building. Joyce Mcdonald, George O’keefe, Jean Weber, Ed Pazzanese, all members of the Forbes Building Tenant Association, who were joined by Luke , Mike, Rob, Yvonne and other MAHT friends in collecting over 200 Save The Forbes Building signatures. It was a festive event that emphasized one meaning of community, helping your neighbor.