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Housing Impact Advocacy
In 2009, we participated in a successful legislative campaign to protect affordable housing. The legislation gives rights of first refusal to government agencies if an owner wants to sell a residential property with an affordability restriction, an “expiring use” property. The legislation also extends notice and rent protections for tenants, giving tenants and communities more time to develop plans to preserve the units as affordable housing.
We continue to monitor implementation of the new state notice protections, submitting comments on administrative and legislative proposals to preserve long-term affordability.
We are currently in the midst of working with tenants in several large “expiring use” properties in various Boston and suburban neighborhoods, advising the tenants, assisting them in negotiations, and in some case representing them in litigation.
We work with the Boston Tenant Coalition in seeking to ensure that the City of Boston’s housing preservation and production policy, is targeted toward clients with the greatest need and furthers fair housing goals.
GBLS has participated in developing the law in this area. In our amicus brief to the Supreme Judicial Court in Costa v. Fall River Hous. Auth. we argued for due process for tenants in public housing developments facing eviction.
Creating Options for Tenants and Former Owners in Foreclosed Properties
In 2011, the Housing Unit wrote the amicus brief on Bank of New York v. Bailey, which was argued before the Supreme Judicial Court. KC Bailey challenged Bank of New York's right to evict him because it never sent him notice of the foreclosure. This is an important case because it asserts the right to due process and a fair hearing under the law for the owners of foreclosured properties.
Advocacy for a Viable Emergency Shelter Policy
The number of families in shelters and hotels/motels has skyrocketed. Given the extreme budgetary pressure on the state, a very active debate has sprung up within the administration and the legislature about how to contain emergency shelter costs. Looking for quick fixes, a leading proposal is to divert clients out of shelters with temporary short-term subsidies. This could have long-range, disastrous impacts for homeless families who would become ineligible for admission to a shelter once their short-term subsidy expired.
We are working to help policymaker make the connection between ballooning shelter numbers and the need to break down access barriers to permanent affordable housing for long-term shelter residents.
Gaining — and Retaining — Access to Affordable Housing
The GBLS Housing Unit, Cambridge and Somerville Legal Services and Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI) have collaborated on legislation to improve access for homeless and at-risk clients.
In addition, we engage in detailed comments/negotiations when public housing agencies propose changes in their admissions and occupancy policies, and/or in Section 8 administrative plans.
Advocacy in the Courts and the Legislature for Survivors of Domestic Violence
The Housing Unit has been working on state legislation to establish protections similar to those under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) for all privately owned and state-assisted housing, as well as to provide for lease termination, lock changes and other relief similar to that established in other jurisdictions.
In addition, GBLS Housing Unit staff provide comments and input on a national list-serve, participate in drafting and commenting on proposed language for HUD implementation of VAWA, and provide advice to advocates in the field.
Empowering Residents in Public/Assisted Housing
Locally, we are there to help when BHA tenant organizations and advisory bodies request assistance to revise bylaws or for organizing campaigns.
We are also part of the Housing Justice Network’s Public Housing and Voucher Workgroup, and participated in the national convening of public and assisted housing residents with HUD. In that context, we also periodically comment on major HUD rulemaking that affects public housing residents.