Good News! Bond Bill Updates, June 4, 2024

On Monday June 3, the House Ways and Means Committee released its version of the Bond Bill (aka the Affordable Homes Act). The House is expected to pass it on Wednesday, June 5, and then it will move on to the Senate. The House made changes to the bill, three of which impact public housing:

    1. The House added $500 million for capital repairs in state housing! This brings their proposal up to a total of TWO BILLION DOLLARS for the backlog of capital needs. Yes, that’s billion with a “b”! While there are still hurdles to get through before we see this money in our communities, it is great news that the House has increased the amount. No one understands the need for capital repairs better than you. Thank you again for making your voices heard.
    2. Stronger tenant protections during Redevelopment. As you may recall, the Bond Bill includes important protections for tenants who are facing redevelopment. The House made these protections even stronger, and ensured that tenants will not need to be rescreened when they come back to their homes after redevelopment.
    3. The LHA merger section has been removed. The original bill included a section that would make it easier for Housing Authorities to merge with each other. This language appears to be gone from the new version. (Mass Union’s board and policy committee had suggested that this section be strengthened to protect tenants.)

We will closely watch all three provisions as the bill is debated in the House and then moves to the Senate. We will let you know how you can take action for tenants soon. Stay tuned!

Thank You to our Convention and Lobby Day Attendees!

THANK YOU to everyone who attended Mass Union’s Convention and Lobby Day! Our purple shirts made a big impression in the state house!
Once again, THANK YOU for raising your voice for tenants. Go Mass Union, go!!

GOLD SPONSOR

SILVER SPONSORS

LOBBY DAY ALLY

PATRON HOUSING AUTHORITIES

SUSTAINER HOUSING AUTHORITY

SPONSORING HOUSING AUTHORITIES

And thanks to the Housing Authorities helping a member of their communities attend our Convention:

Acton HA, Arlington HA, Attleboro HA, Chelmsford HA, Haverhill HA, Quincy HA, Stoneham HA, Topsfield HA, West Springfield HA.

Congratulations to the new Mass Union Board

Welcome to our new board members: Gene Collins, Kathleen Hunt, Rosa Marchese, and Cassandra Page!
And congrats to Board Chair Dave Underhill, Vice Chair Maryanne Potrzuski, Treasurer Sonia Andujar, Secretary Carol Roberts, and Assistant Treasurer Danielle Connolly. Thanks also go to continuing members Nicole Beckles, Bret Perkins, Jessica Quinonez, and especially Don Hamilton.
We also thank Sally Sennott for her commitment to Mass Union.

Mass Union Affiliate List

Mass Union Affiliate List – May 15, 2024

Groups in bold have attendees at the Convention

Attleboro Housing Authority Hillcrest Oaks and 705 Family Sites Tenants Association
Belchertown Housing Authority Town Wide Belchertown Tenants Organization
Belmont Housing Authority Belmont Tenant Association
Boston Housing Authority (BHA) Mildred Hailey**
Boston Housing Authority (BHA) Mary Ellen McCormick**
Boston Housing Authority (BHA) Alice Taylor Advisory Council, Inc.*
Boston Housing Authority (BHA) BHA RAB
Boston Housing Authority (BHA) Charlestown Resident Alliance
Bridgewater Housing Authority H & H Tenant Association
Brockton Housing Authority Belair Heights Tenant Association
Brockton Housing Authority Belair Towers Tenant Association
Brockton Housing Authority Caffrey Towers Tenants Association
Brockton Housing Authority Campello A Tenant Association
Brockton Housing Authority Campello B Tenant Association
Brockton Housing Authority Crosby Gardens Tenants Association
Brockton Housing Authority Hillside Village**
Brockton Housing Authority Manning Tower Tenant Association
Brockton Housing Authority Roosevelt Heights Tenants Association
Brockton Housing Authority Sullivan Towers Tenants Association
Cambridge Housing Authority Alliance of Cambridge Tenants (ACT)
Easthampton Housing Authority Easthampton Tenant Organization
Fall River Housing Authority Fall River Housing Joint Tenants Council
Fitchburg Housing Authority C.J. Durkin Tenants Association
Gloucester Housing Authority Lincoln Park Tenant Organization
Gloucester Housing Authority McPherson Park Tenants Association
Great Barrington Housing Authority Great Barrington Housing Authority LTO
Greenfield Housing Authority Elm Terrace Tenants Association
Holden Housing Authority Checkerberry Village Tenant Organization
Lenox Housing Authority Lenox Tenant Organization (LTO)
Mansfield Housing Authority Mansfield Housing Local Tenant Organization*
Marlborough Community Development Authority Marlboro Senior Housing Tenants Association
Marshfield Housing Authority Tea Rock Gardens Tenant Association
Natick Housing Authority Cedar Gardens Tenant Organization
Needham Housing Authority Cooks Bridge Tenants Association
Newburyport Housing Authority Horton Terrace Tenants Council
Northampton Housing Authority Forsander Tenants Association
Northampton Housing Authority Walter Salvo Tenant Association
Quincy Housing Authority O’Brien Towers/Crowley Ct. Tenant Association
Quincy Housing Authority Tobin Towers Association
Salem Housing Authority Charter Street Tenant Association
Salem Housing Authority Dalton House Tenants Association
Salem Housing Authority Morency Tenant Organization
Salem Housing Authority Pioneer Terrace Tenants Organization
Salem Housing Authority Rainbow Terrace
Somerville Housing Authority Capen Court Tenants Association
Springfield Housing Authority Gentile Tenant Council
Springfield Housing Authority Jennie Lane Apartments Organization
Stoneham Housing Authority Stoneham Housing Resident Union
Sudbury Housing Authority Musketahquid Village Tenant Organization
Swampscott Housing Authority Swampscott Senior Tenant Association
Taunton Housing Authority Taunton LTO
Topsfield Housing Authority Little Brook Village Tenant Association
Warren Housing Authority Winthrop Terrace Tenant Organization
Watertown Housing Authority E. Joyce Munger Apartments Tenants Association
Webster Housing Authority Golden Heights (State)
West Springfield Oxford Place

 

* Grace Period

** Dues to be paid at the Convention

Media Alert: Mass Union’s Lobby Day – The Tenants are Coming!

[May 16, 2024, Boston, MA] – In a powerful display of grassroots advocacy, public housing tenants from across Massachusetts are gearing up to converge on the State House on Monday, May 20, 2024. Tenants will champion The Affordable Homes Act (aka the Housing Bond Bill), a crucial piece of legislation that begins to address the backlog of capital repairs needed to maintain the 43,000 units of state-aided public housing.

Organized by the Mass Union of Public Housing Tenants, the event is set to draw attention to the urgent needs of public housing residents and highlight the need for the bill aimed at addressing long-standing issues within the public housing system.

“This is about more than just money and policy; it’s about people,” said Sarah Byrnes, Executive Director of Mass Union. “For too long, public housing residents have been overlooked and underserved. It’s time for lawmakers to listen to our voices and take meaningful action to improve tenants’ living conditions.”

Mass Union’s Lobby Day at the State House will feature impacted tenants, community leaders, Lt. Governor Kim Driscol, EOHLC Secretary Ed Augustus, and elected officials. The speaking program will run from 10AM – 11AM in the Great Hall. Attendees will then meet with legislators to discuss the importance of passing the Housing Bond Bill (with minor changes), increasing funding for the Public Housing Operating Subsidy, and funding an Access to Counsel pilot program.

For inquiries please contact: Sarah Byrnes at 617.825.9750 or Sarah@massunion.org.

# # #

Convention Agenda and Workshop Descriptions

8:00 AM – 9:45 AM                                  Continental Breakfast

8:00 AM – 1:00 PM                                   Convention Registration

10:00 AM –12:00 PM                               Morning Plenary

    • Reports from the Membership, Finance, Personnel and Policy Committees
    • Discussion about Mass Union’s Values, Vision and Mission
    • Advocacy Tips 101 – Lobby Day Prep

This session will include a 10-minute break around 11AM

12:15 PM – 1:00 PM                                  LUNCH

1:00 PM – 2:15 PM                                   WORKSHOP OPTIONS I

What the Heck is HOTMA?
Spanish translation available | Traducción al español disponible

HOTMA, a federal housing program, stands for the Housing Opportunities & Modernization Act. In 2024, the program underwent significant changes that may affect how federal tenants’ rent and income are calculated. Join this workshop to learn more about HOTMA, including opportunities to influence how your housing agency responds.

Moderator: Annette Duke, Attorney, Mass Law Reform Institute; Presenter: Mac McCreight, Attorney, Greater Boston Legal Services

Race, Class and Belonging
Spanish translation available | Traducción al español disponible

Public housing is beautifully diverse. Join this session to reflect and learn about the role race and class play in public housing and Local Tenant Organizations. We’ll focus on how to ensure that your tenant group is “radically inclusive” so that everyone feels like they belong, regardless of their race, language, religion, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, (dis)ability, or any other factor.

Moderator: Sonia Andujar, Mass Union Treasurer; Presenters: Maria Fernandes-Dominique, Trainer and Facilitator; Tiana Lawrence, Trainer and Facilitator

Advocacy 101
Note that this workshop is being offered during both time slots.

During this session, you’ll learn about the process of passing bills and budgets at the Massachusetts State House, and learn how to be empowered to advocate for fully funded public housing through conversations with your elected officials and their staff.

Moderator: Carol Roberts, Mass Union Board Member; Presenters: Ben Echevarria, Mass Union Director of Organizing; Elaine Almquist, Founder & Principal, Almquist & Associates

Tenant Participation and the Blueprint for Change  

According to EOHLC, resident participation in decision-making at the Housing Authority is beneficial and should be encouraged. Join us for a review of your participation rights as well as tips for running a strong, impactful Local Tenant Organization (LTO). We’ll include tips for using the “Dot Exercise” to prioritize issues in a way that strengthens the LTO’s group cohesion.

Moderator: Maryanne Potrzuski, Mass Union Secretary; Presenters: Sue Kirby, Mass Union Network Leader; Carlos Julia, Mass Union Network Leader

2:15 PM – 2:30 PM                     BREAK

2:30 PM – 3:45 PM                    WORKSHOP OPTIONS II

Mass Union’s Values, Vision and Mission
Spanish translation available | Traducción al español disponible

Based on the results of our organizational assessment, Mass Union is working to clarify our values, vision and mission statements. Values such as grassroots power and radical inclusion ground and unite us. Our vision is the more perfect world we are trying to create. And our mission statement will clarify how we, Mass Union, are doing our part to create that world. We want to hear your thoughts on these three important topics! Join us as we shape these core statements for Mass Union.

Moderator: Dave Underhill, Mass Union Chair; Presenter: Sarah Byrnes, Mass Union Executive Director

Local Tenant Organization (LTO) Participation in Your Community

Number 5 on Mass Union’s policy agenda is improving LTO participation. Help us understand how LTO participation happens in your community – the good, the bad, and the ugly! This information will help us work with the state on a new PHN designed to strengthen and clarify tenant participation regulations. Join the discussion to hear from others and share your story.

Facilitators: Don Hamilton, Mass Union Vice Chair; Ben Echevarria, Mass Union Director of Organizing

Advocacy 101
Note that this workshop is being offered during both time slots
Spanish translation available | Traducción al español disponible

During this session, you’ll learn about the process of passing bills and budgets at the Massachusetts State House, and learn how to be empowered to advocate for fully funded public housing through conversations with your elected officials and their staff.

Moderator: Jessica Quinoñez; Presenters: Annette Duke, Attorney, Mass Law Reform Institute; Elaine Almquist, Founder & Principal, Almquist & Associates

Practices for Cultivating Self and Community Care

Join Maria Fernandes-Dominique of Culture Builders Coop, LLC for an interactive conversation to explore the concepts of self and collective care. We’ll work to identify and expand the wellness practices in our toolkit and create opportunities to build intentional practices into our daily lives.

Moderator: Danielle Connolly, Mass Union Assistant Treasurer; Presenter: Maria Fernandes-Dominique, Trainer and Facilitator

3:45 PM – 4:45 PM                   Mass Union Board Election

4:45 PM – 5:00 PM                   Closing & Raffle

Convention Registration Form

May 19, 2024
Courtyard Marriott, 75 Felton Street. Marlborough, MA
Read more here

The cost is $125 per public housing resident or $175 per non-resident. Please submit your payment online here or send us a check. Our mailing address is: 784 Washington St, Suite 504, Dorchester, MA 02124. We also accept checks at the Marriott day-of!

Hotel accommodations can be made directly with Marlborough Courtyard Marriott.

We’d also like to thank all our Housing Authority and supporting sponsors who have paid to send multiple members of their community to our Convention and Lobby Day!

GOLD SPONSOR

SILVER SPONSORS

PATRON HOUSING AUTHORITIES

SUSTAINER HOUSING AUTHORITY

SPONSOR HOUSING AUTHORITIES

And thanks to the Housing Authorities helping a member of their communities attend our Convention:

Acton HA, Arlington HA, Attleboro HA, Chelmsford HA, Haverhill HA, Quincy HA, Stoneham HA, Topsfield HA, West Springfield HA.

Lobby Day Registration Form

May 20, 2024
Massachusetts State House
10am – 2:30pm
Read more here

Lobby Day is free for public housing tenants! Fill out the registration form below to join us in the fight for tenants’ rights.

For non-tenants, a suggested $50 donation is requested to help cover the costs of food. Please consider donating here.

We’d also like to thank all our Housing Authority and supporting sponsors who have paid to send multiple members of their community to our Convention and Lobby Day!

GOLD SPONSOR


SILVER SPONSORS

LOBBY DAY SPONSOR

PATRON HOUSING AUTHORITIES

SUSTAINER HOUSING AUTHORITIES

SPONSOR HOUSING AUTHORITIES

And thanks to the Housing Authorities helping a member of their communities attend our Convention:

Acton HA, Arlington HA, Attleboro HA, Chelmsford HA, Haverhill HA, Quincy HA, Stoneham HA, Topsfield HA, West Springfield HA.

Action Alert: Increase Funding for State Public Housing

Action Alert! The Massachusetts legislature is currently working on its FY25 budget, which will provide funds for state public housing and other important programs.

The budget includes $112 million for the public housing operating subsidy, which is $5 million more than last year but not enough to cover the need. Luckily, we have a chance to increase this amount through an amendment if we call or email our State Representatives!

Click here to find your state Representative’s name and contact information. You do not need to contact your state Senator, only your Rep. Call or email them before Wednesday April 24 with the message below. Don’t worry about being technical. And don’t be scared – you will speak to an aide, not the representative him or herself. Tell the person that you live in public housing and list the three amendment numbers below.

————————

MESSAGE TO YOUR STATE REPRESENTATIVE

My name is ___ and I am a resident of public housing in ___. There are three important amendments to the budget that would improve quality of life in my community. Please co-sponsor these three amendments:

      1. Amendment 563 – Increases the public housing operating subsidy from $112 million to $117 million.
      2. Amendment 1479 – Makes improvements to provide tenants with Access to Counsel when facing evictions.
      3. Amendment 562 – Increases funding for Resident Service Coordinators from $6.5 million to $8 million.

————————

Let us know if you need help, and how your call goes! Email Ben Echevarria with questions or updates at ben@massunion.org. Thank you for doing your part to improve quality of life in public housing. Your voice is crucial and every call matters!