Water Leaks and Mold Midigation Continues at Georgetowne

Tenants continue to report positive results from tenant advocacy. MAHT volunteer and Georgetowne resident Arthur Sutton is excited to report that his apartment has had mold remediation after problems with flooding. We know that mold can bring potential health issues, so this is great news. Apartments continue be inspected so we look forward to hearing more positive outcomes.

         

Kitchen and closet before mold removal

 

Kitchen after mold removal    

Kitchen and closet after mold removal

                                                  


Victory for Georgetowne Tenants: Beacon Communities Commits to Surveying 100% of Units for Mold and Water Leaks

Following years of advocacy from tenant association Georgetowne Tenants United (GTU), property management company Beacon Communities has agreed to hire a contractor to survey 100% of Georgetowne apartments and address major issues after they are detected. This is a huge win for GTU, which has been urging the property management company to treat water leaks and mold as widespread, systemic issues for years.

Already, several Georgetowne tenants have reported that their units have been inspected and that Beacon has successfully addressed longtime infrastructure and mold issues. Check out these before and after photos from one Georgetowne tenant. Prior to the most recent renovations, this tenant experienced frequent floods (~1 per year) and had to run fans all day and night to prevent persistent moisture from forming mold and triggering her allergies. 

  

We look forward to sharing more stories like this one in the months ahead! 


VICTORY!! Governor Baker Lowers MRVP Tenant Rent Share by 10%; MRVP Codification Bill Receives Favorable Vote from Joint Committee on Housing

For years, MAHT has advocated for changes to the State’s Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP). Thanks to pressure from MAHT and our partners at the Citizens’ Housing and Planning Associations (CHAPA), we are now seeing results.

On January 26th, Governor Baker released a FY2023 Budget Recommendation that outlines several significant changes to the MRVP. Included was a plan to lower MRVP tenant rent share from 40% to 30% of household income. This major change, which has long been spearheaded and championed by MAHT, will affect upwards of 9,500 low-income households. Lowering tenant rent share to 30% is within the Governor’s discretion to enact administratively, meaning that the Department of Housing and Community Development can make the change without going through the long budget setting process.

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Joint Committee on Housing Hears Hours of Testimony in Support of Rent Control

On Tuesday, January 11th, the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Housing heard over eight hours of testimony on several pieces of landlord-tenant legislation. Included were three of MAHT’s priority bills. Two of these bills were proposals to lift the 1994 statewide ban on the municipal adoption of rent control and other forms of rent regulation (H.1378/S.886 and H.1440). The third was a Boston Home Rule Petition (HRP), written by MAHT, to reestablish rent caps in former governmentally involved subsidized housing developments in Boston (H.4229).

The Committee heard testimony from countless local housing justice organizations, tenant activists, small homeowners, and elected officials from across the state. 

Several MAHT tenant leaders testified in support of our priority bills:

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MAHT Celebrates A Year of Tenant Organizing with a Virtual Holiday Party

On Saturday, December 11th, nearly 70 MAHT tenants and allies gathered on Zoom to celebrate a year of successful tenant organizing despite continually difficult pandemic circumstances.

The night began with some holiday tunes led by Boston-based musician Helena Ruffen, followed by an attempted Zoom sing-along. We then moved on to the award ceremony! Award recipients included:

  • The Forbes Building Tenant Association, for tirelessly working to save their homes from market rate conversion and re-file the Boston Home Rule Petition.
  • Georgetowne Tenants United, for helping to end mass evictions at Georgetown and open a dialogue with the Beacon property management company for non-punitive alternatives to eviction for tenants who fell behind on rent.
  • The Babcock Towers Tenants Association, for securing 56 Housing Choice Voucher from the Boston Housing authority and challenging illegal evictions in their building.
  • The Marcus Garvey Tenants Association, for hosting a successful rally with Representative Ayanna Pressley to publicize and gain support for the national Tenant Empowerment Act.
  • The East Canton Street Preservation Association, for working to hold luxury housing developers accountable to community promises and prioritize the development of low-income housing in Boston.
  • The City Rent Subsidy Coalition, for winning $5 million for low-income renters and prioritizing seniors and families with children.

MAHT also honored long time housing advocates Beverly Estes-Smargiassi and Katie Forde of the Boston Department of Neighborhood Development, as well as elected officials including City Councilor Matt O’Malley, Mayor Michelle Wu, and Representative Ayanna Pressley. We then heard remarks from Mayor Wu and Representative Pressley, expressing their commitment to continuing the fight for housing justice in the new year. Finally, we wrapped up the night with a piano performance by none other than MAHT Executive Director Michael Kane!

A huge thank you to all who joined us to celebrate a remarkable year of tenant organizing. We wish everyone a safe and happy holiday!


WinnCompanies’ Housing Stability Program Offers a New Model for Eviction Prevention

In 2018, WinnCompanies, a for-profit affordable housing property management company overseeing $14 billion worth of properties across the country, was Boston’s largest landlord and one of the City’s most frequent evictors. Today, thanks specifically to the work of retired Boston legal aid attorney Jay Rose and more generally to the entire anti-eviction movement, WinnCompanies has adopted a ground-breaking eviction prevention program centered on early intervention and housing stabilization, with the intention of cutting eviction rates by 50% over the next 5 years.

A recent Shelterforce article outlines the basic tenets of the WinnCompanies’ Housing Stability Program. Often times, a property management company first engages with tenants who are behind on rent when they send a Notice to Quit, which details the amount of rent owed and the date at which that amount must be paid in full to avoid being served a court summons. In contrast, the WinnCompanies’ Housing Stability Program implements a series of preventative measures to stop tenants from reaching the point at which they receive a Notice to Quit or a court summons in the first place.

These preventative measures involve proactively informing tenants of the WinnCompanies’ Housing Stability Program and tenant support options when they first move in and each time they renew their lease, connecting tenants who have unpaid rent with a Housing Stability Coordinator to support them in recertifying and applying for emergency rental assistance as soon as they begin to fall behind, and removing threatening or punitive bureaucratic language from rent collection letters. Importantly, if a tenant experiences a loss of income, the Housing Stability Program enables a property manager to apply on behalf of the tenant to recertify the amount of subsidy benefits they receive retroactively, to the date the income is lost, rather than to the date the loss is first reported. If WinnCompanies does serve a tenant a court summons, the Housing Stability Program instructs employees to set the court date as far out as possible, giving tenants the maximum 30 days to negotiate a manageable payment plan.

Already, the WinnCompanies’ Housing Stability Program has begun to shape the conversation around effective eviction prevention nationwide. Read more about the Housing Stability Program and its impacts here!   


Mayor-Elect Michelle Wu Shouts Out MAHT Tenants in Election Victory Speech!

On Nov 2, Boston elected Michelle Wu as the next mayor of the city. In her victory speech, the mayor-elect shouted out the Forbes Building and Georgetowne Homes, two MAHT-associated buildings we are working with! Thank you to the mayor-elect for recognizing MAHT tenants; we look forward to working with you to preserve and expand truly affordable housing for the people of Boston!

Boston Votes Yes to Pass Question 1!

On Nov 2, Boston residents voted to PASS Question 1 to increase the power of the City Council and citizens in setting the City's budget priorities!  MAHT endorsed this campaign and conducted outreach over several months to approximately 3,500 tenant voters about the upcoming election. On Election Day, our volunteers covered more than a dozen polling sites (8% of the total citywide) for the Yes on One campaign. WIth Yes on 1 passed, Boston's budget process will become more transport and participatory, giving more power to our city councilors and eventually Boston residents to have a say in the budget, as opposed to the mayor having sole power. This is big news for Boston!
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MAHT's hard-working Civic Engagement Team also increased voter turnout at Georgetowne Homes by 5% over the last comparable election—shout out to the team of Robert Folan-Johnson, Luis Sanchez, Cheryl Broderick, Ivonne LaLyre, Karl Celis, Gerda Paullisant, Arthur Sutton,  Cherai Mills and Anelore Jacques!

Rally to Save the Forbes Building in Jamaica Plain

On Saturday October 23, Forbes Building tenants, neighbors and allies rallied to #saveourhomes and preserve the Forbes in Jamaica Plain as long-term, subsidized, truly affordable housing for seniors and persons with disabilities! 

  

      

      

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South End Residents Protest Luxury Housing Development

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!

  

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