HUD Tenants Continue Fight to Preserve Affordable Housing
MAHT has continued to work with HUD tenants to preserve their homes and improve their living conditions. In 2016, MAHT has worked with HUD tenants in Comaven apartments, Norway apartments, Reservoir Towers, the Bowdoin School apartments, and Jonathan Realty apartments in Boston and First Lowell Rehab in Lowell. MAHT tenants saved 780 apartments for up to 20 years!
In November, tenants at Reservoir Towers in Brighton vowed to seek a long term renewal of their Section 8 contract, which will expire in 2020. Tenants at Norway Apartments in the Fenway, who won renewal of their Section 8 contract for 20 years last year, are now organizing to fight for needed improvements. Wingate Management, which owns Norway, received $27.5 million when they agreed to renew Section 8, and tenants are working to make sure that some of that money is put towards building repairs and increased security.
MAHT Mobilizes Tenants to Save State “13A“ Housing
MAHT has launched an organizing drive to mobilize the 4,200 families in more than 30 state-subsidized, Chapter 13A developments who face displacement when current rent restrictions end over the next few years. 148 families at Harbor Lofts in Lynn could be displaced as soon as March 2017. MAHT is the first group to organize 13A tenants, starting in 2012. In recognition of MAHT’s expertise, MAHT has been contracted by Mass-Housing and CEDAC to give slide presentations on the 13A crisis and ten-ants’ rights in 20 at-risk buildings. So far, MAHT has given presentations to tenants in the Northgate Co-op in Beverly, and Mercantile Wharf, Burbank Gardens, the Forbes Building, Babcock Towers, and Newcastle/Saranac in Boston. Ten-ants have formed active groups at several buildings, and are planning a statewide 13A committee soon. Burbank Gardens tenants have already won a potential sale of their homes to the Fenway CDC, which has vowed to preserve affordable rents a major victory for 13A tenants statewide!
MAHT Tenants Make their Voices Heard in Washington
MAHT sent 20 representatives to the annual NAHT conference in Washington D. C. in June. MAHT members met with Rep. Michael Capuano from Boston and Rep. Maxine Waters, Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee, as well as DC staff for Senator Elizabeth Warren to urge support for housing programs and 13A tenants in particular. MAHT joined NAHT’s plenary session with HUD officials.
In October, NAHT Board member Margaret Arneaud from Boston joined the NAHT Board in DC to follow up. NAHT has won resumption of Management and Occupancy Reviews (MORs) and has urged changes to HUD policies, so tenants can trigger and participate in REAC and MOR inspections.
MAHT hosts annual BBQ in August
MAHT hosted its annual “Report Back” barbecue in August. Over 60 MAHT members and supporters came out to hear reports from the 20 MAHT leaders who at-tended this year’s NAHT Conference in Washington, DC. City Councilors Matt O’Malley and Josh Zakim attended and pledged their support for MAHT’s proposal for a City-funded Housing First Program in Boston. The two Councilors are among the nine who wrote the Mayor to urge his support, led by Zakim and Council President Wu.
MAHT Participates in Renters Day of Action
On September 22 members of MAHT joined many other Right to the City and Right to Remain allies for the National Renters Day of Action in Boston. The event kicked off at the Greater Boston Real Estate Board and made its way through downtown Boston concluding with Dinner Theater on the waterfront. MAHT leader Molly Hannon spoke out at Millennium Towers to challenge corporate greed and urge support for City funded Vouchers to offset displacement.
MAHT Helps Pass CPA, Seeks “Housing First” Vouchers
This year, MAHT tenants helped lead the Boston campaign to pass the Community Preservation Act, a ballot initiative to raise $20 million per year for affordable housing, parks and historic preservation. MAHT members made 5,800 voter contacts, and on Election Day 37 MAHT volunteers covered 63 shifts at polling places across the city, urging voters to Vote Yes on Question 5. The CPA passed with 74% of the vote!
MAHT volunteers also collected more than 1,000 postcards to Mayor Walsh, urging him to use CPA funds to create a City-funded Voucher program, to ensure that CPA money aids lower income renters and homeless people who need help the most. In 2016, nine City Councilors, led by Council President Michelle Wu and Housing Chair Josh Zakim, wrote Mayor Walsh urging a $5 million pilot program for Housing First Vouchers, as proposed by MAHT. A MAHT delegation met with the Mayor on June 23. While declining to include $5 m for city vouchers this year, the Mayor promised to consider it in 2017. He asked MAHT to propose options for stable funding to aid low income renters. MAHT’s postcard campaign suggests CPA as one source! MAHT will forward several ideas, including CPA, and ask for a meeting with the Mayor soon.