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The shortage of affordable rental housing remains one of the most critical problems facing low-income individuals and families in Greater Boston. More than 5,000 privately-owned subsidized units in the city of Boston are at risk of losing their affordability through the year 2012, and thousands more are at risk over the next five years. At the same time, the number of homeless families has continued to skyrocket.
The limited availability of safe, decent affordable housing makes the preservation of existing low-income housing crucial. Efforts to help low-income people gain access to — and remain in — such housing is central to our work.
Direct Client Services
Our major priorities include:
- Eviction defense cases, especially cases involving public and subsidized housing residents and cases against major landlord actors. Tenants with disabilities, facing threats of domestic violence, and/or whose access to justice may be affected by limited English proficiency receive the highest priority. We defend hundreds of people per year from eviction and we have a 90-95% success rate.
- Gaining access and preserving access to affordable public and assisted housing for low income populations. GBLS represents tenants in expiring use/expiring Section 8 contract housing and negotiates with landlords on tenants' behalf.
- Representation of tenants and former owners of foreclosed properties including providing legal assistance to pursue affordable purchasing options.
- Assistance to homeless families to gain admission into Emergency Assistance (EA) funded shelter and defense of families threatened with eviction from shelter. All of such cases are treated as emergencies and every such case that comes in to GBLS in our service area receives some level of assistance.
- Helping families in shelter obtain permanent, affordable housing
- Advocating for victims of abuse to protect housing options — which could mean relocation for safety reasons or preservation of existing housing when abuse puts them under threat of eviction.
- Working with tenant associations to help them understand housing policies and assist in changing unfair policies when needed.
The Housing unit works closely with a wide range of advocacy groups, community organizations, tenant organizations, public housing boards, government agencies, university and private legal service groups. Through our partnerships we are better able to reach low-income people who need our services. We can combine resources to maximize the impact of our advocacy efforts on legislative bodies and administrative agencies that set policy and law.
Representation of individual clients gives our attorneys great insight to the systemic problems which produce — and reproduce — housing shortages and instability for low-income people. We use this knowledge to engage in filing legal cases, advocating for changes to agency rules and regulatons at the local, state and national level, and pushing for legislative action and reform at the state level.
Read more about the high impact advocacy efforts of the GBLS Housing Unit.