Massachusetts is experiencing a housing crisis. In recent decades, skyrocketing housing costs have put growing financial pressure on most middle and low-income families. This crisis has been exacerbated by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused widespread job loss 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 listening closely to those who have been most impacted by housing instability and to advancing policy changes led by community-based organizations. We advocate for policies that:
- Support the stability of tenants and low-income homeowners to prevent displacement,
- Expand access to supportive services that prevent homelessness and help people maintain housing,
- Reduce exclusionary land use practices that inhibit development of new affordable homes near transit and jobs, and
- Increase resources to build new affordable housing and improve the quality of existing housing throughout the state.
FY22 Legislative Priorities:
COVID-19 Housing Equity Bill (S.891/H.1434) by Sen Jehlen & Reps. Honan and Moran
Since the state moratorium on evictions and foreclosures was allowed to expire in October 2020, more than 30,000 needless evictions and foreclosures have been filed, and upwards of 106,000 renters across the Commonwealth are currently behind on their rent. Current housing protections are not enough to meet the scale of the crisis. The COVID-19 Housing Equity bill will help protect tenants and homeowners from losing their homes, while ensuring that landlords do not have to evict their tenants and are made whole financially. This bill would require landlords to pursue rental assistance before an eviction, pause foreclosures and require forbearance according to federal guidelines.
Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) (S.890/H.1426) by Sen. Jehlen & Reps. Livingstone and Consalvo
This bill 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.
Right to Counsel (S.874/H.1436) by Sen. DiDomenico & Reps. Rogers and Day
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. This bill will prevent evictions and promote housing stability during the pandemic and over the long-term.
Eviction Sealing (HOMES Act) (S.921/H.1808) by Sens. Boncore and Edwards & Rep. Moran
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 bill will protect tenants from being unfairly branded with an eviction record by sealing all eviction cases as soon as they are filed and while pending, until and unless an allegation is proven.
Housing & Environment Revenue Opportunities (HERO) Act (S.1853/H.2890) by Sen. Eldridge & Rep. Elugardo
The bill will double the deeds excise tax to generate approximately $300m 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, directly linked to rising real estate prices, is an affordable and equitable way to generate revenue. The MA rate has remained unchanged for decades and is less than half of that in neighboring states.
The Tenant Opportunity Act (S.886/H.1378) by Sen. Gomez & Rep. Connolly and Elugardo, and An Act Relative to the Stabilization of Rents and Evictions in Towns and Cities Facing Distress in the Housing Market(S.889/H.1440) by Sen. Jehlen & Rep. Rogers
Currently, nearly half of all MA renters and more than 70% of very low-income renters are burdened with unaffordable housing costs, and the percentage of residents who rent their homes is rising. Since 2010, the fair market rent for a two-bedroom in MA has increased by 55%. This forces too many families to live in overcrowded conditions, drains resources from local economies, and pushes residents out of their own neighborhoods. These bills offer an important piece of a comprehensive approach to the affordable housing crisis by enabling local rent stabilization and tenant protections. The lifting the ban on rent control in the Commonwealth will allow municipal officials to bring everyone to the table — renters, homeowners, and landlords — to consider local rent stabilization and tenant protections that work best for their communities.