Annual Meeting 2019


Coalition to City: Use Luxury Condos Property Taxes for Low Income Renters NOW!

The City Rent Subsidy Coalition, a Coalition of 32 organizations, rallied Saturday in front of One Dalton to ask that the City of Boston dedicate at least 50% of new property taxes from 5,100 luxury condos in Boston’s pipeline for City-funded rent subsidies to enable low income renters to stay in Boston.   The proposal would supplement the federal Section 8 program by increasing low income units in new mixed income housing and providing “Housing First” to Boston residents who are currently experiencing homelessness. Protesters were joined by several members of the coalition, including Community Development Corporations, Boston Democratic Socialists, HousingWorks, several Tenants Associations, ACTUP Boston and the Boston Homeless Solidarity Committee.    

The group, headed by MAHT and the Save Our Section 8 Committee, wrote Walsh in January 2018 urging him to earmark new property taxes from luxury condos like The Dalton for this purpose.  The 160 “super luxury” condos at One Dalton are selling for an several million dollars each, with the top floor fetching $40 million.  Opening this spring, the property is expected to generate at least $9 million a year in property taxes.

The Mayor’s Housing Report, Housing in a Changing City, identified 21,100 families earning less than $25,000 per year who will need rent subsidies to stay in the City.   “We applaud Mayor Walsh for recently winning 1,000 new Section 8 subsidies from HUD,” said Michael Kane of the Mass Alliance of HUD Tenants.  “That’s a huge step toward meeting the needs of Boston renters—but much more is needed to prevent displacement. The Dalton alone will generate enough new property taxes to get another 900 homeless people off the streets and into permanently affordable housing.”   Kane called for The Dalton’s developers and condo owners to support using their property taxes for this purpose. 

In addition to the 1,800 luxury high rise units such as Millennium Towers that have already opened, the Coalition has researched 5,100 “super luxury” units in the pipeline, including The Dalton, that will bring in more than $100 million in “new growth” property taxes in the next four years. 

Last week, the Coalition proposed to City officials that 50% of these funds be used to create 5,000 low income rent subsidies for a Boston Rental Affordability Program (Boston RAP) over the next four years.  The City’s Neighborhood Housing Trust will consider Councilor Lydia Edwards proposal for Boston RAP at its June meeting.    

The Mayor’s 2020 budget includes “new growth” property tax revenues of $50 million.  An estimated $16 million of this amount is generated by 800 new luxury units that came on line last year.  50% of these funds would generate $8 million to assist at least 800 low income renters this year alone.  Revenue from the Dalton is expected to start in 2021. 

“My company handles the waitlists for 100s of properties in the Boston area. We see that the number of full-time employed households who are homeless or at-risk has exploded in the last several years. But a household that works in Boston ought to be able to remain in Boston. Since the displacement of these families is partly due to the explosion of new, non-affordable units, it is so appropriate that tax from the developments causing the displacement be used to fun project-based vouchers for those who have been displaced,” said John LaBella of HousingWorks and Mass Association of Community Development Corporations.

The program, if funded by the City of Boston, could contribute to desperately needed deeply affordable housing in new construction across the city. "'Affordable housing' isn't affordable to those who need it most. We should be asking 'affordable to who?'", said Cherai Mills of the Boston Homeless Solidarity Committee. 

The Coalition’s most recent letter to the Mayor and other background information can be found at www.cityrentsubsidycoalition.org.


Tax Day Demonstration on Wednesday, April 17th!


House Ways and Means Committee Recommends $110 Million for MRVP!

Thank you to Representative Michelwitz and the House Ways and Means committee for recommending an increase in Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP) funding to $110 million! This is a great start and Representative Donato has filed an amendment to return MRVP to historical funding levels of at least $130 million per year. Over the past several months, MAHT has been working with our partners in the Building Blocks and Housing Solutions Campaigns to advocate for increased funding for MRVP to assist low-income tenants, increase low-income housing production and preserve MRVP housing components in many 13A buildings. As constituents, the Mercantile Wharf Tenants Association met with Representative Michelwitz to push for increased funding for MRVP to keep them in their homes and preserve the units for future low-income tenants in desperate need of deeply affordable housing. 13A tenants clearly had an impact in this process and will continue to fight for an even larger increase in MRVP through Representative Donato's amendment, in the Senate budget and final budget!


MAHT Spring Membership Meeting

Spring Membership Meeting
Saturday, April 6th
9:30AM-1:00PM

MAHT Office
42 Seaverns Avenue
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

MAHT 13A tenant and Section 8 tenant groups continue to fight for creative solutions to save their buildings as contracts expire and 3-year protections wind down. Hear the latest!

In Boston, MAHT's City Rent Subsidy Coalition has been working hard to win funds for low-income renters by targeting at least 50% of new property tax revenue from luxury condos. Learn what you can do to help!

At the Statehouse, MAHT is working to pass a comprehensive anti-bullying bill for senior/handicapped housing, win more subsidies for low-income renters, and tax real estate speculation! Learn about upcoming legislation and State House hearings!

But this is no time to rest! Trump has again proposed deep cuts and rent increases for Section 8 tenants, as well as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps and programs for the poor. Hear about upcoming actions to Stop the Cuts!

Join us to plan our strategy to Save Our Homes in 2019, through the June NAHT Conference and beyond!

Agenda

  1. Celebrate recent victories and new groups!
  2. Stopping HUD budget cuts in Washington: how the Trump budget affects you!
  3. Tax Day Action: Tuesday, April 17th, 4:30PM at Uphams Corner Health Center
  4. State House and City Hall campaigns for low-income tenants
  5. MAHT Annual Meeting May 18th at Tent City
  6. Discuss June NAHT Conference in DC: June 8 to June 11th!

Directions

Orange Line to Green Street, then straight on Green Street, left on Alfred Street, and right on Seaverns Avenue

39 and 41 buses stop on Centre Street, just a short walk from the office

For Questions and to RSVP, contact the MAHT office!


Anti-Bullying Legislation- how YOU can help!

Help build support for the Anti-Bullying Bill (HD 3905/SD2192)!

Elderly and disabled tenants in subsidized housing often experience bullying in their homes, whether it be from management or other residents. “Bullying” is the intentional, repeated attempt by one or more persons to impose wrongful, harmful control over one of more persons. Bullying tactics can be verbal, social or physical including gossip and actions that demand, disrespect and devalue the other. We know that bullying can cause severe distress and trauma to victims, jeopardizing the health of vulnerable seniors and disabled people.

In 2017, Governor Baker appointed a Commission to Study Ways to Prevent Bullying in Subsidized Public and Assisted Multifamily Housing and the Mass Alliance of HUD Tenants' own Michael Kane served as co-Commissioner. The Commission developed comprehensive legislation over several months with input from many advocates, constituency representatives, agency and legislative representatives.


Rep. Kevin Honan has formally filed HD 3905, “An Act to prevent and respond to bullying of elderly and disabled residents.” Sen. Joan Lovely has filed SD 2192, with identical text, in the Senate. Find the bill text here.

Modeled on legislation to address bullying in public schools, HD 3095/SD 2192 defines and prohibits “bullying”, “social bullying” and “mobbing” within Public or Subsidized Multifamily Housing for senior (55+)/handicapped people. The bill requires property owners/managers to develop a building-specific Plan to prevent and remedy bullying; train residents and building staff; and address victims’ rights to seek relief and enforcement. It would require the Attorney General’s Public Safety Division to develop a Model Prevention and Remediation Plan and Training Curriculum for owners to adapt within one year, and for owners/managers to adopt a building-specific Plan within six months of the Model Plan.


We need your help in 2 ways to build support and pass the Anti-Bullying Bill (HD3905/SD2192)!
1. Please contact your state legislators to ask for their support and co-sponsorship (see here for tips)
2. Join us this Thursday, January 31 @11 am at the State House to advocate for support (Meet at the 4th floor café in the State House)

Call our office (616-522-5133) to let us know if you'll join our lobbying team!


Concord House Tenants Save 171 Affordable South End Homes!

After an 18 month campaign, tenants at Concord House, two mid-rise buildings on Tremont Street in Boston’s South End, have won an historic victory saving 171 at-risk homes as permanently affordable housing!

The buildings’ original HUD subsidy contracts ended in 2017. Tenants were set to receive Enhanced Vouchers from HUD, but they would have been replaced by high market tenants when they left. MAHT organized the Concord House Tenants Association, which vowed to seek permanently affordable housing to preserve the South End’s diversity.

 

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MAHT Tenants Fight Gentrification, Save 80 At-Risk Apartments in Roxbury!

After a year long battle, tenants at Esperanza Trust and Fort Hill Gardens, two properties totaling 80 units in Roxbury, are finally seeing some positive changes. Without any Section 8 funding coming to either building for a year, much needed repairs were not addressed while tenants were left wondering what would happen when Section 8 contracts end in 2020.

The current owner, Pitts, at first tried illegally to get out of the Section 8 contract early, but was blocked by HUD when MAHT organized tenants in 2017. HUD forced Pitts to hire Cruz Management. Cruz was able to stabilize the property and secure release of HUD subsidies in March 2018.

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MAHT Organizes Roxbury Tenants to Block Displacement, Wins Repairs

In August 2017 MAHT received a call from a tenant at Eperanza Trust, a 3 building 40-unit property in Roxbury owned by Lorenzo-Pitts, Jr. looking for information about how to legally withhold rent do to less than satisfactory repair work. This turned out to be the tip of an iceberg!

MAHT organized an emergency tenant meeting and quickly discovered that the owner was attempting to illegally terminate the Section 8 contract threatening tenants with displacement. Another 40 families at Fort Hill Gardens, also owned by Pitts, were similarly at risk. Both buildings are located in the rapidly gentrifying Fort Hill neighborhood of Roxbury.

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Concord House: Affordable Housing Victory Near

   In 2017, MAHT helped organize tenants at Concord House, 2 buildings totaling 181 units Boston’s South End, to save their homes as HUD mortgages subsidies ended. MAHT helped roll back rent increases and helped the Concord House Tenants Association formulate a plan to preserve affordable housing by converting to Project Based Vouchers (PBVs). Many of the residents grew up in the racially diverse South End and have lived at Concord House for decades, and are determined to preserve this diversity for the South End in the future.

The owner, Charlie Gendron, agreed to the tenants plan, and ultimately passed legislation in Washington in March 2018 which will enable Concord House to convert to Project Based Vouchers if tenants consent.

Meanwhile, tenants have been issued Enhanced Vouchers from HUD . If tenants agree, the owner will preserve the building for Section 8 tenants for at least 20 years.



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