Massachusetts is experiencing a housing crisis decades in the making. Skyrocketing housing costs have put growing financial pressure on most middle- and low-income families. This crisis was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused widespread job loss for many with low-paying jobs, particularly in the hospitality, entertainment, and restaurant industries.
Access to affordable housing is a fundamental driver of positive health outcomes. Housing stability promotes well-being, fosters stable employment and contributes to long-term family and social connections. To address our housing crisis, MPHA is committed to promoting inclusive communities where all residents can find stable, affordable housing, and shifting decision-making power to residents who have been harmed by housing policies and practices shaped by structural racism. In solidarity with resident activists, we advocate for policies that:
- Lift the statewide ban on rent control to allow municipalities to enact local policy based on the needs of each community,
- Keep people housed by preserving existing affordable housing stock through tenant ownership and improving the quality of housing,
- Prevent displacement by expanding tenant and homeowner supports and increasing legal representation in eviction proceedings, and
- Increase access to housing through CORI and eviction record sealing, inclusionary land use practices, and development of new, affordable, low-threshold housing.
Organizing in Solidarity with Homes for All Massachusetts
Since the state moratorium on evictions and foreclosures expired in October 2020, upwards of 35,000 evictions and foreclosures have been filed, and nearly 120,000 Massachusetts households are behind on rent. Current housing protections are not enough to meet the scale of this crisis and prevent even more needless displacement. MPHA, in solidarity with Homes for All Massachusetts, a statewide coalition of grassroots housing justice organizations, is organizing to stabilize housing across the Commonwealth. A top priority is passing the Rent Control Enabling bill and the Foreclosure Prevention Program legislation, which would strengthen protections for tenants and homeowners at risk of losing their homes.
Promoting Community Partnerships
In 2020, MPHA partnered with Neighbor to Neighbor (N2N), a grassroots advocacy organization, to build a coalition of residents, community-based organizations, and local leaders in Worcester and Springfield. The goal of this collaboration was to advance campaigns that will empower low-income residents and residents of color to advocate for better transit, cleaner air, and stable housing.
However, in direct response to community needs and feedback during the COVID-19 pandemic, the scope of our joint initiative shifted from working on rider-led transportation justice to address the skyrocketing housing costs that have put growing financial pressure on most middle- and low-income families across the Commonwealth, particularly in Gateway Cities like Worcester and Springfield.
Our partnership continues to build a coalition of residents, community-based organizations, and local leaders across N2N chapter cities to advance housing justice campaigns that will empower low-income residents and residents of color to advocate for anti-displacement, tenant empowerment, and local rent control legislation at the city and state level.
2023 – 2024 Legislation Endorsed by MPHA
Rent Control Enabling Act (H.2103/S.1299) by Rep. Rogers, Rep. Montaño, Sen. Gomez, and Sen. Jehlen
Massachusetts is now the fifth most expensive state to rent a home, with Boston now the second most expensive rental market in the country. Across the Commonwealth, rents are rising at sustainable rates, eviction filings are reaching pre-pandemic levels, and no-fault evictions have more than doubled. This forces too many families to live in overcrowded conditions, drains resources from local economies, and disrupts the social fabric of neighborhoods. This legislation offers an important piece of a comprehensive approach to the affordable housing crisis by enabling local rent stabilization and tenant protection. The Rent Control Enabling Act will lift the statewide ban on rent control and empower municipalities to enact local rent stabilization measures and just-cause eviction protections tailored to the needs of each community.
Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) (H.1350/S.880) by Rep. Livingstone, Rep. Consalvo, and Sen. Jehlen
This legislation will allow cities and towns the option of providing tenants in multi-family buildings the right to match a third-party offer when their homes are being sold. TOPA provides an important anti-displacement and tenant empowerment tool that can preserve affordable rental housing stock, provide a mechanism for tenant associations to collectively purchase their buildings, and stabilize low-income households.
Foreclosure Prevention Program (H.942/S.653) by Reps. Barber, Rep. Capano, and Sen. Gomez
In response to the pandemic, mortgage servicers increasingly rely on streamlined foreclosure prevention reviews that lack homeowner protections. Holding conferences to review options before a foreclosure will prevent unnecessary displacement and costly foreclosures. This legislation will require servicers to provide accurate loan information to homeowners and engage in foreclosure prevention conferences, where servicers and homeowners must make good faith efforts to find reasonable alternatives to foreclosure.
Right to Counsel in Eviction Proceedings (H.1731/S.864) by Rep. Rogers, Rep. Day, and Sen. DiDomenico
This bill will provide legal representation for tenants facing eviction and owner-occupants of 1 to 3-family homes seeking possession of their only home, who receive public benefits or are at or below 80% of the area median income.
Housing and Environment Revenue Opportunities (HERO) Act (H.2894/S.1799) by Rep. Montaño and Sen. Eldridge
This legislation will double the deeds excise tax to generate approximately $300 million in new revenue annually. Funds will be used to create or preserve housing for 18,000 working-class homeowners and renters over 10 years, provide grants to localities for climate resilience and mitigation, and assist low-income families with rental assistance. This tax, which is directly linked to rising real estate prices, is an affordable and equitable way to generate revenue. The Massachusetts deeds excise tax rate has remained unchanged for decades and is less than half of that in neighboring states.
Local Option for Housing Affordability (LOHA) (H.2747/S.1771) by Rep. Connolly and Sen. Comerford
Across Massachusetts, cities and towns are grappling with the adverse effects of rapidly escalating home prices on their communities’ economy, workforce, quality of life, and social identity. Longtime residents are being displaced while housing demand far outstrips supply in many Massachusetts communities. The local option real estate transfer fee legislation will equip municipalities with another tool to address the worsening housing crisis by enacting a small fee (between 0.5%-2.0%) to create and preserve local affordable housing.
An Act Promoting Housing Opportunity and Mobility through Eviction Sealing (HOMES) (H.1690/S.956) by Rep. Moran and Sen. Edwards
Having an eviction record can create a devastating barrier for tenants seeking housing. As soon as an eviction case is filed, a tenant has a publicly available record, regardless of whether they did anything wrong or were actually evicted. This legislation will protect tenants from being unfairly branded with an eviction record by providing a process for tenants to petition the court to seal the record.