Latest News

Coming in April: Online Resident Leader Training Series

Tuesday mornings: April 2, 9, 23, 30 and May 7
10am – 11:30am
Via Zoom (link provided after you register)
Download and Share the Flyer (PDF)

This five-part training series will help you build confidence and skills to manage a successful Local Tenant Organization (LTO). Starting and sustaining an LTO is a lot of work, but Mass Union, MKI and our network of fellow tenants are here to help! Whether you are a seasoned leader or just getting started, join us to share tips, tricks and encouragement. We’ll talk about:

      • Why to form a Local Tenant Organizations – and why not to!
      • Leadership do’s and don’ts
      • The rights and responsibilities of Local Tenant Organizations
      • How to reach and engage other tenants by overcoming fear
      • How to build power and voice to win changes at your Local Housing Authority

The official registration date has passed, but email info@massunion.com to request to register late. 

This series will be co-led by Maria Fernandes-Dominique of Culture Builders Cooperative LLC and is part of our partnership with the Mel King Institute.

March 28: North Shore Resident Leader Training Session

Mass Union is very excited to head up to Salem on March 28, 2024, for an in-person training session! All public housing residents are welcome. We will focus on the following:

    • Building power through strength in numbers (Spaghetti Power!)
    • Prioritizing issues
    • Listening skills

Whether you are trying to start an LTO or simply looking to refresh your knowledge, please join us. Here are the details:

Northshore Resident Leader Training Session
Thursday, March 28, 10am-3pm
Charter Street Development
Salem Housing Authority
27 Charter Street, Salem, 01970
Register below by March 25, 2024

    • Breakfast and lunch will be provided – please plan to arrive by 9:30
    • Stay tuned for information about parking
    • Spanish-English interpretation will be provided and Spanish speakers are enthusiastically encouraged to attend!

This training will be co-led by Maria Fernandes-Dominique of Culture Builders Cooperative LLC and is part of our partnership with the Mel King Institute.

Housing Authority Sponsorships

Download the Housing Authority Sponsorships PDF

This spring, Mass Union and MassNAHRO are once again teaming up to encourage Housing Authorities to send resident leaders to our Convention and Lobby Day. Thank you again to our Fall Convention supporters – the Fall River, Salem, Needham, Attleboro, Cambridge, Easthampton, Northampton, and Watertown Housing Authorities!

On May 19, resident leaders will gather at the Marriott in Marlborough for the Spring Conference for a day of networking and learning. The very next day, our empowered advocates will travel to the Massachusetts State House for Mass Union’s very first Lobby Day, where we will hear remarks from high-ranking officials (names TBA!) as well as representatives from MassNAHRO. At Lobby Day, we are excited to advocate for increased capital and operating funding for Housing Authorities – issues important to us all.

As you know, the regulations remind us that “cooperative working relationships enhance housing programs and benefit both LHAs and residents.” Educated tenants are an asset to any Housing Authority! Many LTOs currently receive only $500/year in Participation Funds, making Conference attendance out of reach. Mass Union works hard to reduce Convention costs but your help is needed to expand this opportunity for more residents. To show our appreciation for your commitment to resident education, Mass Union and MassNAHRO will recognize Housing Authorities who send tenants to our Convention in our publications. Please see the table below for recognition levels.

Housing Authorities may also buy ads in our Program Book for $50, $80, or $125. See more info here.

Residents can register for the event by April 24 here. Thank you in advance for your commitment to resident participation!

Resident Patron
Send 10+ Residents

HA logo on event signage and swag

Back Cover or Inside Front Cover ad in program book (while space lasts)

Recognition on Mass Union’s website, event emails and social media

Recognition in MassNAHRO’s publications

Resident Sustainer Send 5+ Residents

HA logo on event signage and swag

Full page ad in program book

Recognition on Mass Union’s website, event emails, and social media

Recognition in MassNAHRO’s publications

Resident Sponsor
Send 2+ ResidentsHA logo on event signage and swag

Half page ad in program book

Recognition on Mass Union’s website, event emails, and social media

Recognition in MassNAHRO’s publications

Questions? Contact Sarah Byrnes, Mass Union Executive Director

sarah@massunion.org  617- 825-9750

Thank you, we are grateful for your support!

Board Director Nominations

Director (4 Seats available) Nominees: Gene Collins, Portia Gray-Goffigan, Kathleen Hunt, Lori Manzo, Rosa Marchese, Cassandra Page, and Sally Sennott

GENE COLLINS

Hello,

I am Gene Collins; I have been working with tenants to address tenant issues for the last eight years. I have a degree in Business Administration and 20+ years of experience as a manager and team member. I am a past city planning board member and served as a member of the city Board of Health prior. I have served on many boards before and hope to be an effective team member.

I would like to be a director to help the union grow membership, work with tenants from across the state to improve quality of life and be effective change agents.

 

PORTIA GRAY-GOFFIGAN

Portia Gray-Goffigan has been a resident  of the Attleboro Housing Authority for 29 years. In 2005, with the training and support of Mass Union for Public Housing Tenants, and Attorney Annette Duke of Mass Law Reform; Portia and fellow residents created the current LTO for the family and scattered sites units of the AHA. Portia still actively serves as President. Advocating for the rights of others has always been a great passion in Portia’s life. She served 6 years on the Attleboro Council on Human Rights. Portia is college educated, a published author, a mother of four and grandmother of six.

 

KATHLEEN HUNT

My name is Kathleen Hunt, and I am probably best remembered from our last election as the person who initially won a seat on the Mass Union Board only to lose by one in the recount vote.  On that day, I did a lot of standing up and sitting down during the nomination process so I am hoping I will be more successful in this upcoming election.

I have been a resident of Topsfield living in Senior Housing for the past 12 years and President of our Tenant Association for the past 8.  While each of us has a unique story on why we live in public housing, most if not all have experienced some financial change, illness and the challenges of aging. Moving into Senior Housing, I imagined wine gatherings, movie theater bus rides, chair yoga and social interaction. What I encountered were isolated, angry residents afraid of the Executive Director, who gossiped about their neighbors or who acted like the mean girls of high school. I made a conscious decision to form a tenant association to empower residents, to stand up as a group against bullying, and find the positives in our remaining years.  It has taken 8 years to finally have a Housing Authority Board that is pro-tenant, to have the Tenant Organization listed on the Board of Director’s Agenda, and to have residents attend a social function to actually have fun.  This accomplishment was based on building our community through constant interaction, transparency and making each resident reach out to a new resident, his/her neighbor and be recognized for acts of kindness. Prior to my retirement, I had another life as a Professor, a United Way Board Member and other credentials I hope you won’t hold against me. I am very analytical, hardworking and have a dry sense of humor.

 

ROSA MARCHESE

My name is Rosa Marchese,

I was born in Corato Bari, Italy, where I lived with my family until the age of six. We moved to Venezuela, South America. I married and had three sons.

In 1983 we moved to the United States and a few years later we opened our Italian Bakery and my three children became US citizens.

In 2008 my husband passed away and I had to close our bakery and go to work for other people.

In 2019 I moved into Belchertown Housing and became a United States citizen. I was also elected Secretary of our newly formed LTO.

I am an empath that speaks English, Italian and Spanish. I have had three years of working with residents in public housing and tying to educated our Board of Commissioners and Executive Director about our LTO.

I feel my skills would be an asset to the Mass Union Board.

Thank you for your consideration.

 

CASSANDRA PAGE

Greetings all,

My name is Cassandra Page.

I am a long time resident of the Belmont Housing Authority.

I served on the BHA board as both the treasure & assistant treasure.

Since I was a teen I’ve dedicated my time doing volunteer work in many capacities. From soup kitchens to coaching sports, I enjoy helping  people of all ages.

In 2019 I started my journey helping other low income residents. I reached out to Mass Union for help getting the Belmont Tenant Association started. I played a crucial role in organizing the TA so they could be a recognized LTO.

I have organized several holiday drives for residents at the family & elderly developments.

I look forward to continuing my public housing service work serving residents and hope to join the Mass union board of directors.

Respectfully,

Cassandra Page

SALLY SENNOTT

  1. I have lived at Waverley Oaks Senior Community, Belmont, MA for 5 years and this is my 3rd year as the Vice President of the Belmont Tenant Association. I also serve as the Treasurer.
  2. I have a college degree from Duke University, Durham, NC.
  3. I am MTA retired and had a dual career in business and education.
  4. I know how to facilitate a meeting.
  5. I speak well.
  6. I write well.
  7. I listen well.
  8. I have a laptop and internet connection.
  9. I’ve been attending BHA regular and special meetings for 3 years and have been articulating tenant needs all of this time.
  10. I am a team player and believe in the shared pursuit of goals.
  11. I have attended the last two Fall Conventions of Mass Union.I’m a board member of the non-profit Belmont Against Racism and I believe in justice, equity, compassion and affordable housing.
  12.  I was appointed to the Belmont Housing Authority Board effective April 3, 2024.

May 19: Mass Union Board Election

OFFICER ELECTION
Nominees

At the Convention on May 19, there will be an Officer election to fill the five Officer positions: Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer, Secretary, and Assistant Treasurer. The Officer election is open only to the current members of the board. Officer nominations are posted here and were sent to affiliates in the snail mail April, along with the Director nominations.

DIRECTOR ELECTION
Nominees

The Mass Union Board of Officers and Directors has decided to hold a special election to fill four open Director seats on the board. The election will be held at the Spring Convention on May 19, 2024. Please see information about eligibility on page 6 of our bylaws.

Mass Union List of Affiliates (Eligible to Vote)

Election Rules & Procedures

As adopted by the Election/Nominating Committee, May 10, 2024, 1pm

COMMITTEE MEMBERS: Nicole Beckles, Chair and Board Member, Boston; Bret Perkins, Board Member, Quincy; Jessica Quinonez, Board Member, Springfield; Ellen Jacobson, Affiliate, Lenox; Susan Lanzikos, Affiliate, Bridgewater. Also present: Lilith Dyke and Sarah Byrnes, Mass Union staff.

ELECTION RULES

BYLAWS ARTICLE VI SECTION 4

Elections: The affiliates to the Mass Union shall elect the members of the board. At the Spring Convention, held in odd numbered years, the affiliates shall elect at least nine members and a maximum of thirteen board members. At the Spring Convention, held in even numbered years, affiliates shall elect five officers from the current membership of the Board. Officers are elected by the affiliates from current board members. If the Board has the minimum number of nine Board members, there is no need to have a special election in the even numbered years to expand the Board.”

Please note that because this is an even-numbered year, we are holding an Officer election. Only current board members can run for the Officer seats, which are Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer, Secretary, and Assistant Treasurer. The board also decided to hold a Special Election for Directors (non-officers) this year. We have six people running for four open seats.

BYLAWS ARTICLE V SECTION 6

Paragraph 1: “Each city or town from which there are affiliates present and entitled to vote at a Convention shall be entitled to cast six votes. If there are two or more affiliates from any city or town present and entitled to vote at a Convention, said city’s or town’s six votes shall be allocated equally between said affiliates. Votes may be cast as whole or as fractions thereof.”

When it is time for voting, Nicole will call through the eligible cities/towns, such as Belchertown, Boston, or Brockton. An eligible city/town is one where there is at least one paid affiliate. Each eligible city/town will allocate their six votes equally among paid affiliates. For example:

      • In a city/town with 6 paid affiliates, each gets 1 vote.
      • In a city/town with 3 paid affiliates, each gets 2 votes.
      • In a city/town with 2 paid affiliates, each gets 3 votes.
      • In a city/town with 1 paid affiliate, they get 6 votes.

Paragraph 5: “Nominations for members of the Board may be made by a Nominating Committee or from the floor of the Convention by a member of an affiliate. The Nominating Committee, if any, shall be appointed by the Chairperson of the Mass Union, shall consist of three Board Members from different communities and two members of affiliates from other communities and shall report directly to the Convention. The list of recommended candidates proposed by the Nominating Committee shall be sent to affiliates twenty-one days in advance of the Convention. The committee shall make no changes in or additions to its recommendations after they are sent to the affiliates.”

Please note that because we are sent nominations to the affiliates in advance of the Convention, we will not be able to take nomiations from the floor of the Convention.

ADDITIONAL RULES

In addition to the rules listed above from our bylaws, the Committee has created the following two rules for this election.

 1. You must be present at the Convention to run.

If extenuating circumstances arise and a candidate can no longer attend, the candidate can alert a board or staff member at Mass Union. Their circumstances will be explained to the affiliates for a vote, and the affiliates will decide whether to allow the candidate to run.

2. Candidates may distribute materials at the Convention, with three caveats:

      1. No negative statements are allowed about the other candidates.
      2. No promotion of business interests.
      3. Endorsements from present or former Mass Union staff are not allowed.

ELECTION PROCEDURE

 I. Call to Order

Chair Dave Underhill will call the meeting to order and pass facilitation to Nicole Beckles, Chair of the Election Committee.

II. Review of Election Procedure

Nicole will name and thank the Election Committee members and explain that we will be holding three rounds of voting. She’ll explain each as we get to it.

III. Uncontested Officer Election: Vice Chair, Treasurer, Secretary and Assistant Treasurer Roles

 1. MOTION TO VOTE AS A SLATE

Nicole will make the following motion and affiliates can vote yes, no or abstain.

“I am making a motion to allow the four uncontested officers to run as a slate. That means that each community will be able to vote for all four officers at once. This is a way we can save time today. Uncontested means no one is running against them. Here are the four uncontested officer races:

      • Vice Chair: Maryanne Potrzuski
      • Treasurer: Sonia Andujar
      • Secretary: Carol Robers
      • Assistant Treasurer: Danielle Connolly

“We will go through each community and you will vote yes, no or abstain on whether to save time by voting for all four of these at once as a slate. Yes means one round of voting for all four, no means we will go through each office separately.”

Allow for someone to second the motion. Then take a vote (yay, nay, or abstain) from each community.

2. VOTING

Depending upon the outcome of the vote above, Nicole will go through the offices separately or all at once. Each city/town with at least one paid affiliate will allocate their six votes for the slate or the candidate, or they can abstain. (New nominees are not permitted.)

V. DIRECTOR ELECTION

Note that Lori Manzo has withdrawn from Mass Union and is no longer a candidate.

1. CANDIDATE SPEECHES

The six candidates will be invited to sit at the front of the room, and each will be invited to make a two-minute speech.

2. VOTING

    1. The staff will list the six names on a flipchart.
    2. Nicole will call through the eligible municipalities. A municipality is a city or town, such as Belchertown, Boston, or Brockton. An eligible municipality is one where there is at least one paid affiliate. Each eligible municipality will allocate their six votes.
    3. As people are voting, staff will tally the votes on the flipchart.
    4. The top vote winner gets SEAT 1. Staff will write their name on the WINNER flipchart.
    5. The staff will list the remaining five names on a new flipchart and repeat Steps A-D until all four seats are filled.

VI. CHAIR RACE

    1. CANDIDATE SPEECHES

The two candidates will be invited to sit at the front of the room, and each will be invited to make a two-minute speech.

2. VOTING

    1. The staff will list both names on a flipchart.
    2. Nicole will call through the eligible municipalities. A municipality is a city or town, such as Belchertown, Boston, or Brockton. An eligible municipality is one where there is at least one paid affiliate. Each eligible municipality will allocate their six votes.
    3. As people are voting, staff will tally the votes on the flipchart.
    4. The top vote winner wins the Chair office. Both candidates will remain on the board.

Board Officer Nominations

Candidates for Chair: Don Hamilton and Dave Underhill

Don Hamilton

My name is Donald Hamilton, I am running for the office of CHAIR of Mass Union. I am President of Bishop Eid Tenants Association, I am the Vice-chair of the Board of The Fall River Tenants Association, I am Secretary on the Board of Mass Union. I have been active in all 3 positions. As President of Bishop Eid, I helped organized, write, and receive a Grant for $100K. The Grant gave us Outside Lighting and Security Cameras. As member of the Fall River Tenants Association, I have recently help with the election process in 1 Building with more elections to follow. As a member of Mass Union, I have helped in an election in the Boston Area, I have run 2 different workshops at our conventions, appeared in Quincy to give support for a training session. I have appeared in and gave testimony in 2 in person meetings with EOHLC (DHCD). When asked to help I took the lead. I am a man of my word I do what I say. TENANTS, TENANTS, TENANTS my first loyalty, my second loyalty is to the Board of Mass Union. I will do what is best for the Tenants and what is best for Mass Union. I respectfully ask for your vote and for your support.

Dave Underhill

Many of you already know me, my name is David Underhill, and I would appreciate your vote in my quest to continue as the Chairman of the MASS Union of Public Housing Tenants. Inc. The following are a few of my credentials that make me the perfect person to continue as Chairman.

  • Current Chairman of MASS Union Board (2023 – Present)
  • Former Vice Chairman of MASS Union Board (2021 – 2023)
  • Member of MASS Union Board (2015 -2021)
  • Current chairman of the Fall River Housing Joint Tenants Council (2018 – present)
  • Member of the Fall River Housing Joint Tenant Council (2015 – present)
  • Instrumental in getting the Tenant Assistant program at the Fall River Housing Authority implemented.
  • Current Commissioner and vice chairman of the Fall River Housing Authority Board of Commissioners (2015 – Present)
  • Resident Researcher with the Healthy Neighborhood Initiative (2021 – Present)

Based on my credentials I ask that you consider casting your affiliate’s vote for me to continue as your chairman.  When reelected I will work hard to ensure that MASS Union’s voice is heard at all levels of Government within the Commonwealth.

Candidate for Vice Chair: Maryanne Potrzuski

To all the affiliates of Mass Union, my name is MARYANNE POTRZUSKI and I am on the board of Mass Union as a Director and temporary Secretary. I am also President of the Winthrop Terrace Tenant Organization as well as a Board of Commissioner/Chair for the Warren Housing Authority. As a tenant I have seen some of the confusion we face and have worked very hard to make this housing a safe place to live. One of my goals as Chair was to get as many tenants as possible on the board of commissioners and to date, we have 3 out of 5 with a potential of a 4th coming soon! What better way to have a voice than with the ability to have a VOTE!! For this reason I am seeking the position of Vice Chair to continue to do this very important work and hope I can count on your vote at the Spring Convention! I hope I can count on your vote!

Candidate for Secretary: Carol Roberts

Hi, my name is Carol Roberts, I am running for the position of Secretary of Mass Union.

I am the President of Caffrey Towers Tenants Association, in Brockton, Massachusetts.  I have been in this position for over three years.  I have also been the treasurer.  I am now serving as the President of the Resident Advocacy Board for the tenants.  As a board member on Mass Union, I will do my job to the best of my ability.

Candidate for Treasurer: Sonia Andujar

My main interest as a Board member is to continue understanding and practicing our A,B,C’s that is the legal duties that will continue to move Mass Union forward:

    1. Duty of care – the wise use of all assets
  1. Duty of loyalty-approve all activities that advance Mass Union mission
  2. Duty of compliance- follows the By-laws and other applicable laws and regulations

I am a member of the Alliance of Cambridge Tenants (ACT) since 2008 . I have been a Board Member acting as Treasurer and now coordinate their City Wide Meetings where tenants come together to find solutions to their housing issues. We work closely with the Cambridge Housing Authority. I am asking for your vote to continue as acting Treasurer and thank you for your consideration.

Candidate for Assistant Treasurer: Danielle Connolly

My name is Danielle Connolly and I am a Mass Union director and hold the interim Assistant Treasurer position on the board. I am also Vice President of the Stoneham Housing Residents Union. I am seeking the permanent Assistant Treasurer position for Mass Union come our Spring convention. I have been on the finance committee since being elected to the board and feel I would be a great contribution under Sonia to oversee Mass Union’s financial duties. I love being a part of an organization whose sole purpose is to be the voice of the tenants! I kindly ask for your vote in May to be your Assistant Treasurer of Mass Union. Thank you!

March 8: State Budget Hearing in Gloucester

Join other tenants from Mass Union at an upcoming hearing about the FY25 State Budget!

Joint Committee on Ways & Means Hearing on the State Budget
Friday, March 8
Gloucester City Hall, 9 Dale Ave, Gloucester, MA 01930

10:00 – Tenants gather at City Hall
10:30 – Hearing begins
12:30 – Mass Union lunch at McPherson Park development (tentative)

The hearing is focused on Housing, Economic Development, and Labor and state agencies are invited to testify. It is an opportunity for Mass Union members to hear testimony from the Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities. If you can not join Mass Union members in person, it may also likely be live streamed (check back for the link).

Please email Sarah Byrnes, sarah@massunion.org, to RSVP or with questions. Hope to see you there!

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.

April 3: Resident Board Member Roundtable

Join Resident Board Members from across the state to share stories, challenges and accomplishments! Two experienced resident board members, Carol Roberts of Brockton and Jessica Quinonez of Northampton, will facilitate an open agenda. As said by a resident board member at a recent training, “we are all in the same boat!”

Potential discussion topics:

    • Navigating board rules and regulations
    • Working with other board members, executive directors and local tenant organizations
    • Building confidence and leadership

Resident Board Member Roundtable Training: Wednesday, April 3, 2024 from 10am-11am. 

Register here: https://www.tfaforms.com/4634263?tfa_1=PHTP%20Resident%20Board%20Member%20Roundtable&tfa_2=2024-04-03&tfa_4=&tfa_12=701Qg000009n3cJ&tfa_3=

Prior to the training, we will send you the Zoom link. If you have any questions, you can email or call me at emmac@macdc.org, 617-379-5933.

This roundtable is being offered by our partner the Mel King Institute.

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

Registration is now closed