On Saturday, October 9th, the East Canton Street Canton Street Preservation Association (ECSPA) and MAHT hosted a rally with 120 attendees in front the East Canton Street apartments, to demand that the City hold developers of luxury housing accountable to promises of community benefits and invest in the development of more truly affordable housing in Boston.
Rally speakers included ECSPA tenant activists Kenneth Woods and Maggie Costa, Newcastle Saranac tenant activist Rahel Berhe, Marcus Garvey tenant activist Mr. Crimes, community activists Conrad Ciszek, Armani White (Reclaim Roxbury), and Ivonne LaLyre (Save the Trees/Melea Cass Coalition), and city council candidates David Halbert, Ruthzee Louijeune, Carla Monteiro, and Julia Mejia. We were also joined by the amazing Extraordinary Rendition Band, who travelled all the way from Providence, RI as part of the annual HONK festival!
GTU members met with Beacon CEO Dara Kovel on August 26. Kovel confirmed that Beacon has dismissed 123 evictions filed last March; no one has been evicted for Nonpayment during COVID at Georgetowne. Beacon has suspended new Notices to Quit and court filings for Non-Payment Evictions and will help tenants with Emergency Rent Assistance. Beacon is considering new policies to support tenants who fall behind on rent and will meet again with GTU in the fall. Already, Beacon has hired new Management Office staff. Section 8 tenants who lost jobs and income during COVID can get a rent reduction to 30% of their new income, retroactive to the first of the month after they lost the income, NOT just to when they recertified. Beacon will consider a retroactive rent adjustment for those who did not get this.
Lost Your Job or Income? Having Trouble Paying Rent? Rental Assistance Programs or Income Recertifications are Available!!
Many tenants have lost jobs and income due to COVID and are having a hard time paying the rent! Although in Massachusetts there is an Eviction Moratorium for non-payment of rent through October 17, back rent will still be due, after that date.
Section 8 or Public Housing tenants can receive a rent reduction for a loss of income. If you lose your job or your income drops, Section 8 tenants can request an “interim recertification” to lower their rent, to 30% of their new, reduced household income. All Section 8 tenants have this right!
Tenants with “Project-Based” Section 8 can request a rent reduction from their landlord retroactive to the first of the month following the loss of income. Section 8 Voucher or Public Housing tenants can request a rent adjustment from their Housing Authority, generally effective the month after the request is made.
Some Massachusetts tenants who pay a fixed monthly “Tax Credit” or “Market” rent, under their lease lose a job or income, their rents are NOT automatically reduced, to reflect the lost income. However, these families can apply for emergency rental assistance from the state.
For Market tenants who earn less than $96,250/year for a family of four or $77,000/year for two people, the State has created the Emergency Rent and Mortgage Assistance (ERMA) Fund to help tenants who are unable to pay the rent. Eligible families can apply for up to $4,000 to cover back rent owed since April 1, 2020. Funds are not guaranteed; applicants must document loss of income and how much rent they owe in order to apply.Read more
NAHT Statement on the Murder of George Floyd
and the Movement for Racial Justice and Change
As a multiracial organization of working class tenants in privately-owned, HUD assisted housing, NAHT’s elected all-tenant Board condemns the abhorrent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Stephon Clark, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others before them. These murders at the hands of racist police and vigilantes reflect the sordid 400 year history of white supremacy and violent racial subjugation that has stained our country since its inception. The systemic trauma this violence inflicts daily on all people of color, and the destructive sickness of racism that causes it, affect us all. This must end, and it must end now.
Please mark your calendars! Join MAHT as we honor Rep. Kevin Honan, Nika Elugardo, Mike Connolly and Mayor Walsh!
Due to COVID, we are organizing this year’s meeting by Zoom. You can join by video from any computer or smart phone, or just call in by regular telephone (see flyer at left).
This year, Notice for the Annual Meeting is by email, social media and text and phone message only—we decided to cancel the in-house regular mailing. Hope you can join us!
Call the MAHT office at 617-522-5133 or 617-233-1885 if you want more information. To get Zoom to work on your cellphone or computer checkout this video.
Updates from the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless on Coronavirus Resources and Advocacy Opportunities
Coronavirus: Protecting People Experiencing Homelessness and Poverty
March 18, 2020
During these unprecedented times, the Coalition remains steadfast in our commitment to addressing the needs of people experiencing homelessness, housing instability, and poverty in Massachusetts. As the Commonwealth and the world grapple with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are working each day to ensure that people experiencing homelessness are not forgotten as prevention, response, and relief efforts are undertaken.
We have been providing updates on resources and advocacy opportunities on our website and social media channels, and wanted to also share those updates with you here. We also want to hear from you about what you are seeing and what the unmet needs are in your community as the new reality sets in.
While the State House is closed to the public, we are continuing to advocate with legislators via phone, email, and video conferences for needed relief, as well as on existing key bills and budget campaigns to promote housing stability, economic supports, and human rights.
Please click here for details on new coronavirus-specific bills already filed, and stay tuned for more details on efforts to ensure supplemental funds for programs like the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition homelessness prevention program (RAFT), emergency shelter, and targeted services and safe places for unaccompanied youth.
On behalf of the entire team at the Coalition, we hope that you stay healthy, safe, kind, and committed!
MAHT brings more than 20 leaders to the National Alliance of HUD Tenants Save Our Homes Conference each year in Washington DC. This year, NAHT tenants met with Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), who pledged support for NAHT’s Tenant Empowerment legislation. Tenants also won a new Memo from HUD clarifying that tenants have the right to receive and appeal HUD inspection reports, and to get 24 hours notice from management before entering tenants’ apartments.
NAHT has proposed a comprehensive Tenant Empowerment Bill to allow tenants to participate in HUD inspections, and provide accountability tools such as rent withholding to pressure owners for repairs. In November, NAHT Board President Geraldine Collins and tenant lead-er Shalonda Rivers testified at a hearing of the Housing Subcommittee of Waters’ House Financial Services Committee regarding NAHT’s bill.
At the hearing, Waters commended NAHT for effective efforts to empower tenants. Waters has also convened a Roundtable with NAHT board leaders and housing industry representatives on December 5 and is expected to co-sponsor NAHT’s bill with Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) in the coming weeks.
As MAHT has continued to win victories and save homes, new groups have been added, including renewed membership from the Ocean Shores Tenants Association in Lynn, and St. Botolph Terrace Tenants Association in the Fenway. MAHT led a workshop at Ocean Shores to hear the needs of tenants while offering well-tested strategies to produce results. The SBTTA plans a meeting with their owner soon.
Meanwhile, MAHT has held several meetings at Georgetwone Homes, 967 apartments in Hyde Park. In 2013, Georgetowne’s owner, Beacon Communities, received $130 million from HUD for major reno-vations. MAHT fought to have widespread water leaks and mold ad-dressed at the time, but tenants still report extensive water leaks, mold, sewage backup and rodent infestation. Referring to photo-graphs collected of units in 2013, MAHT organizers have gathered new photos revealing almost identical issues in many apartments. With these survey results, MAHT and Georgetowne Tenants United hope to solve these issues once and for all at a meeting with Beacon in the near future.
Many MAHT tenants, particularly in state-subsidized Section 13A mortgage buildings, receive rental assistance from the Mass Rental Voucher Program (MRVP). But for 25 years, low income MRVP ten-ants pay 40% of their income for rent.
MAHT has proposed legislation to lower MRVP rents from 40% to 30% of income, in line with the federal Section 8 pro-gram. MAHT tenants from the Forbes Building in Jamaica Plain and Mercantile Wharf in the North End met with Rep. Kevin Honan, Chair of the Housing Committee to support the plan.
MAHT is also helping to lead a new coalition, Housing and Environment Revenue Opportunities (HERO), to double the deeds excise tax and target $300 million for housing and climate—including $60 million for MRVP!
“ Every one of us in MRVP would feel more secure with dropping our 40% rent to 30% of income, and that security is crucial to help alleviate the stress it creates.” —Susan Strelec, Forbes Building
On August 20, 2019 MAHT celebrated the preservation of 97 affordable units at the Newcastle-Saranac Apartments in Lower Roxbury. As the building’s 40-year mortgage subsidy contract expired, owners planned to sell the building, potentially threaten-ing residents with displacement. MAHT organized the Newcastle-Saranac Tenants Association to save their homes in response.
Victory came when the Fenway CDC and partnering owner Richard J. Henken completed their purchase of the building and preservation of 97 units as affordable housing. Major repairs are planned in 2020.
Newcastle tenants helped win a $20 million grant from the City and Project Based Vouchers to support the sale, MAHT tenants also helped block an ill-advised scheme by the seller to threaten tenants with eviction unless they signed new leases in violation of state law.
Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh joined the celebration this past summer as tenants and partnering organizations honored the fight to save our homes at a preservation ceremony. His remarks commended the efforts of MAHT in organizing tenants to extend affordability at Newcastle-Saranac.
Although the preservation of these 97 units is an outstanding win, the fight must continue as rents for many ten-ants may still rise from 30% to 40% of income. As tenant leader Kim Wilson recounted on August 20th, “From the beginning of living here, I felt a sense of community with lovely neighbors that I could depend on.” MAHT contin-ues to support the Tenants Association in the next phase of their struggle.