March 3: Rally for Public Housing

Mass Union’s partner GBIO is planning a rally to help bring the Housing Justice Campaign across the finish line by standing over 1,700 people strong!

We look forward to standing for housing justice alongside all of you at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center (ISBCC)! The action will start at 3pm sharp.

Address: 100 Malcolm X Blvd, Roxbury, MA 02120
Parking and transit information coming soon

February 28: Meeting Facilitation Webinar

Have you ever been frustrated during a meeting that wasn’t well planned? Ever get stuck in a meeting where nothing gets accomplished? If so, you are not alone! Luckily there is a blueprint for leading engaging, efficient and effective community meetings. Join our February Zoom webinar to learn more.

What: Facilitating Community Meetings Webinar

When: Wednesday, February 28th, 1:00pm-2:30pm on Zoom (register below)

Who: All tenants within the Mass Union network

Why: Develop your skills with tools on meeting planning, agenda setting, facilitation, achieving group cohesion, and evaluation.

This webinar will be led by Maria Fernandes-Dominique of Culture Builders Cooperative LLC and is part of our partnership with the Mel King Institute. We look forward to your participation! 

Sponsor Mass Union’s Conference and Lobby Day!

Click here for Sponsorship Tiers

“We have to act, and we have to act now, to make it easier for everyone to find affordable places to live. We will build affordable homes at every income level and repair our long-neglected public housing.” – Governor Maura Healey, 2024 State of the Commonwealth Address

“We are proud to work with the Mass Union of Public Housing Tenants to protect and improve public housing communities across the Commonwealth. Mass Union’s tenant-led work is a meaningful voice for housing justice. We hope others will join us in supporting the Spring 2024 Conference and Lobby Day.” – Secretary of Housing and Livable Communities, Ed Augustus

Affordable housing is the #1 issue for Massachusetts’ families, communities, and economy. Safe secure public housing provides more than a place to live; it is the cornerstone that helps low-income families build educational and economic opportunity.

Skyrocketing rents across the state create an unaffordable burden for many. In fact, the most recent data identifies over 513,000 people facing this problem. For over half a century, public housing has provided affordable homes for thousands of the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable seniors, families, veterans, and persons with disabilities.

The resident-members of the Massachusetts Union of Public Housing Tenants, Mass Union, have successfully advocated for the preservation and improvement of public housing for over fifty years.

On May 19th, Mass Union’s resident-leaders will gather at the Marriott, Marlborough, for the Spring Conference. It’s a day of networking, sharing challenges and strategies for success, and learning. On May 20th, the very next day, our empowered advocates will travel to the Massachusetts State House for Mass Union’s first Lobby Day.

We invite you to join MassSave, The Boston Foundation, Local Housing Authorities, and others who have supported Mass Union, with a sponsorship for the Spring Conference and Lobby Day.

 ABOUT THE SPRING CONFERENCE

“I was hesitant to attend Mass Union’s Fall Convention but I am so glad I went. I got lots of great information for our newly founded Local Tenant Organization, It really was an excellent experience. Thank you, Mass Union!” – Ellen Jacobson, Member

At the Spring Conference over 100 tenants will gather from across the Commonwealth at the Marriott Marlboro for a day of networking, learning and skill building. We work to enhance the power of grassroots leaders and to build an effective network to advocate for needed policy changes to improve housing.

ABOUT MASS UNION’S LOBBY DAY

The very next day, resident-members will board buses and head to the State House and immediately put their new skills to work at our very first Lobby Day. The members will meet with legislators to personally let them know of our recent victories, such as:

    • New proposed state regulations that will increase the amount Tenant Organizations receive from $6.00/unit/year to $25.00/unit/year. With this increase, tenant groups will have enhanced access to training, interpretation, staffing and other resources
    • Participation Rights for Tenants in Local Housing Authority Management Agreements, decisions that will impact them and may adversely impact their services.

Resident-leaders will personally educate their legislators about our current priorities, including:

        • Addressing the backlog of capital needs through the $1.6 billion allocated in Affordable Homes Act,
        • Protecting rights for those whose homes are undergoing redevelopment or facing Housing Authority mergers, and
        • Adequately funding the Operating Subsidy for public housing in FY25.

Click here for Sponsorship Tiers.

Sponsorship Tiers

Stand with us, demonstrate your commitment to safe, well-maintained public housing with your sponsorship! Read more here

Click here to add your Sponsorship
Click here to buy an Exhibitor Table or Program Book Ad

PRESENTING SPONSOR – $10,000.00

Keynote speaker

  • Invitation to offer a Conference Welcome.
  • Mass Union representative to present a lunch and learn at your location.
  • Deliver your message in a dedicated email to 700 residents on our statewide mailing list.
  • Conference vendor table and four lunches.
  • Premium full-page Program Book ad on back cover or inside front cover.
  • Prominent logo on event signage and swag.
  • Prominent logo on Mass Union website, event emails and social media.
  • Add your information to our centralized Lobby Day table.

PLATINUM SPONSOR – $5,000.00

Two opportunities available: sponsor either the Convention or the Lobby Day lunch!

  • Invitation to offer remarks during lunch at either the Conference or Lobby Day.
  • Conference vendor table and three lunches.
  • Full-page Program Book ad.
  • Prominent logo on event signage and swag.
  • Prominent logo on Mass Union website, event emails, and social media.
  • Add your information to our centralized Lobby Day table.

GOLD SPONSOR – $2,000.00 

Three opportunities available to sponsor buses that transport Conference participants to the state house for Lobby Day and return them at the day’s end!

  • Logo on the bus.
  • Conference vendor table and two lunches.
  • Half-page Program Book ad.
  • Logo on event signage and swag.
  • Logo on Mass Union website, event emails, and social media.
  • Add your information to our centralized Lobby Day table.

SILVER SPONSOR – $1,000.00

  • Conference vendor table and one lunch.
  • Half-page Program Book ad.
  • Logo on event signage and swag.
  • Logo on Mass Union website, event emails, and social media.
  • Add your information to our centralized Lobby Day table.

LOBBY DAY ALLIES and COMMUNITY PARTNERS – $500.00

  • Two tickets for Lobby Day, including breakfast and lunch.
  • Listing in Program Book.
  • Logo on event signage and swag.
  • Logo on Mass Union website, event emails, and social media.
  • Add your information to our centralized Lobby Day table.

CONVENTION EXHIBITOR TABLES – $500.00

  • Conference vendor table and one lunch.
  • Listing in Program Book.
  • Add your information to our centralized Lobby Day table.

BUY AN AD IN OUR PROGRAM BOOK

Full page Ad: $125.00  / Half Page Ad: $80.00 / Quarter Page Ad: $50.00

Click here to add your Sponsorship
Click here to buy an Exhibitor Table or Program Book Ad

Or contact Sarah Byrnes, sarah@massunion.org, 617.825.9750
Checks can be payable to Mass Union of Public Housing Tenants
784 Washington Street, Suite 504, Dorchester, MA 02124

New Public Housing Notice Gives Tenants More Voice

Mass Union builds power at the grassroots level through groups like the Morency Tenants Organization in Salem. Like many other LTOs, tenants in Salem have been building relationships with each other, identifying issues of shared concern, and bringing them to the attention of the LHA’s ED. This process became known as the Blueprint for Change and many improvements have been made as a result in Salem and beyond.

But residents in Salem hit a roadblock when their ED announced plans to enter into a “Management Agreement” with nearby Marblehead. Marblehead had lost its own ED and their board decided to hire the Salem Housing Authority to manage their LHA. This is known as a “Management Agreement.”

Tenant leaders in both Marblehead and Salem were concerned that this Management Agreement would diminish services and maintenance in both places. Tenants in other parts of the state have also been voicing concerns about Management Agreements. Meanwhile, others have reported good things about these arrangements. Sometimes Management Agreements work, and sometimes they don’t.

Mass Union heard the concerns of tenants asked EOHLC to clarify that tenants should be consulted before Housing Authorities enter into Management Agreements. We’re thrilled that they listened and released PHN 2024-2, “Requirement to consult residents when entering into Management Agreements” (see below). Now, LHAs cannot enter into Management Agreements without consulting the tenants first.

If your LHA is considering entering into a Management Agreement, please let us know. We can help you prepare to voice your opinion to the LHA staff and board. Whether you support or oppose the Management Agreement, Mass Union is here to help.

Mass Union Statement on the Governor’s FY25 Budget Proposal

Mass Union applauds the Healey Administration for funding crucial programs in the Governor’s FY25 budget, specifically:

  • Increasing the operating subsidy to $112 million for public housing, a $5 million increase from last year. While more is needed, this is a very important step in the right direction.
  • The operating subsidy will also fund an increase to Tenant Participation Funds, allowing tenants to have a stronger voice in the decision-making that impacts their lives.
  • We also applaud the allocation of $50 million for capital repairs in public housing in the FY24 supplemental budget.
  • And finally, we are thrilled to see the initiation of an Access to Counsel Program for tenants facing eviction, funded at $3.5 million.

We urge the legislature to adopt or increase these funding levels to protect the Massachusetts seniors, veterans, and families who rely on our precious state public housing.

The Blueprint for Change

In public housing, most decisions are made by the Housing Authority’s Executive Director (ED). The good news is that an officially recognized Local Tenant Organization has the right to meet with the ED every three months. Many meet monthly, and we recommend that you do so if possible. To get the most out of your meetings with the ED, many tenants use the following five steps called the “Blueprint for Change.”

Step 1: Identify the Widely and Deeply Felt Issues

To create change in your building, residents will need to be organized. The first step to getting organized is to build relationships and find out what other residents care about. Which issues keep them up at night? Are some of these issues widely felt?

To find out what people care about, you need to ask them. There are lots of ways to do this. You can use door-knocking, phone calls, one-to-one meetings, accidental run-ins, surveys, community meetings and more to find out which issues are widely and deeply felt in the community. We’ll talk a lot more about this in our final session.

Widely felt means that many people care about the issue.

Deeply felt means that people care a lot and might even be losing sleep about the issue.

Step 2: Meet with Residents and Conduct the Dot Exercise

Once you have talked to as many neighbors as possible, you can bring everyone together to do a “Dot Exercise.” This will allow neighbors to collectively prioritize which issues they want to work on. We will cover this and the following steps in more detail in Part II of the Mel King Institute training.

Here is a snapshot of how the Dot Exercise works:

  1. At a meeting, genrrate a list of issues from residents, such as parking, sanitation, safety, schooling, etc. on a whiteboard or easel.
  2. Once you have a full list, count the number of issues.
  3. Divide the number by three. Give each resident this number of stickers. For example, if twelve issues are listed, each resident gets four
  4. Residents can then place the stickers next to the issues they think are most important. They can place them all next to one issue, or spread them out.
  5. Review the stickers to get a snapshot of which issues are most widely felt.

Step 3: Prep to Meet with the Executive Director (ED)

  • Set a standard time for your meeting with the ED, for example every third Monday of the month.
  • Set a standard time for the LTO Board to prepare for the meeting, for example the Friday before the meeting.
  • At the prep meeting, review any commitments the ED has already made and be prepared to follow up.
  • Prepare the list of goals (new or ongoing) and questions you will raise. This will be informed by Steps 1 and 2 above.
  • Decide who will speak about what.

No one should attend the meeting with the ED unless they attend the prep session. No one should bring up an issue unless it has been approved by the group.

Step 4: Meet with the Executive Director

  • Stick to your prepared agenda.
  • Write down everything the ED says, especially what she or he promises to do in response to your goals. It is essential to keep track of whether the ED says yes, no, or maybe.
  • Don’t feel pressure to solve the Housing Authority’s obstacles. Present your goals and keep presenting them until you win or change your goal. See the sidebar.

Step 5: Report Back through the Newsletter

As soon as possible after the meeting, write up the newsletter to report to the rest of the community about how things went.

  • Share the issues that were discussed and what the ED said she or he would do about them.
  • Make the newsletter as fun and accessible as possible. Use clip art or other graphics.
  • This written record is extremely important for two reasons. First, it holds the Housing Authority accountable. Secondly, it provides transparency, so all residents know what is going on.

Results

  • Tenants have resolved many issues as a result of this process.
  • With each small or medium-sized victory, quality of life improves. Often, the atmosphere in the building becomes more “homey,” and the power of the tenant organization grows.
  • As the tenants build more power, they will be able to tackle bigger and bigger problems.

Mass Union Network Leader Training Program

Timeline: March – June 2024

Payment: Participants in good standing will be paid $250 on April 30 and $250 on June 30, 2024.

Requirements:

  1. Attend the five-part LTO training series in March and April over Zoom, and think about what it would be like to facilitate the sessions (7.5 hours)
  2. Attend a debrief with other Network Leaders in Training (1 hour)
  3. Attend Mass Union’s facilitation training over Zoom in April (1.5 hours)
  4. Attend the three-part “Boot Camp” training series over Zoom in June, and think about what it would be like to facilitate the sessions (4.5 hours)
  5. Place follow-up call(s) to Boot Camp participants to check in and provide support (1-2 hours)
  6. Pass a short quiz about LTO participation regulations (<1 hour)
  7. Attend a final debrief session (1 hour)

APPLY HERE