Access to quality 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. Unfortunately, in Massachusetts, exceptionally high housing costs place significant financial pressure on middle and low-income families. This crisis has been greatly exacerbated by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to widespread job loss and economic insecurity.
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 (S891/H3030) by Sen Jehlen & Reps. Honan and Moran
Since the moratorium on evictions and foreclosures was allowed to expire in October 2020, thousands of new eviction cases have been filed. New programs are providing resources to help prevent evictions, but they do not meet the scale of the crisis. This bill will require landlords to seek rental assistance before filing an eviction; implement a pause on no-fault evictions; reinstate a pause on foreclosures; and require the state to adopt equitable principles, flexibility, and simplification in the distribution of rental assistance funds.
Right to Counsel (SD1906/HD2441) 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) (SD798/HD1889) by Sen. Boncore & 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 (S1853/H2890) 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; 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 at the same level for decades and is less than half of that in neighboring states.
Building Partnerships for Affordable Housing and Health Equity
MPHA is leading a statewide effort to bring together healthcare leaders and housing advocates to address the affordable housing crisis in Massachusetts and its impact on health outcomes statewide. In conjunction with our partners, we have developed the Massachusetts Principles for Healthy and Affordable Housing and are inviting a wide array of organizations to join us in endorsing this statement. We have also developed training tools to educate leaders within health care institutions about: 1) the housing policy landscape in Massachusetts, 2) the health impacts of inadequate healthy affordable housing, and 3) current health care & housing partnerships in Massachusetts.