The Coalition for Social Justice held a community education forum on the Southeastern MA Housing and Eviction Crisis on April 13, 2021. Below are links to the resources.
Thank you to our presenter, Lew Finfer, from the Mass Communities Action Network for his work and collecting these resources to share.
Presentation to Coalition for Social Justice on Housing Issues and Organizing
April 13, 2021
By Lew Finfer, MA Communities Action Network, LewFinfer@gmail.com
My background in housing: 1970-1973—organizer for Dorchester Tenants Action Council, 1980-1984—Director of MA Tenants Organization, 1985-1992—Director of MA Affordable Housing Alliance on redlining, mortgage discrimination, and affordable homeownership, 1996-2002—Co-Director of Greater Boston Interfaith Organization on campaign that passed the Housing Trust Fund, 2020 at MCAN on helping with passage of the Eviction and Foreclosure Moratorium, 2021 at MCAN on helping on campaign to get $10 billion into the American Rescue Plan for foreclosure prevention
Types of housing
–Tenant of an absentee landlord
–Tenant in an owner occupied 2-4 family house
–Tenant in subsidized housing owned by a non-profit of for-profit landlord (family and elderly buildings)
- Bay Village in Fall River, list of state subsidized/regulated developments at
- Verdean Gardens in New Bedford, list of developments at
- Battle Farm and Chatham West I and Chatham West II in Brockton
–Tenant in public housing (family and elderly developments)
- Bay Village in New Bedford, list of properties at https://newbedfordhousingauthority.org/properties,
- Mitchell Heights in Fall River, list of developments at https://fallriverha.org/frhadevelopments/
Ex. Crescent Court and Kennedy Drive in Brockton, list of developments, https://www.brocktonhousingauthority.com/residents/developments/
Apply for family or elderly public housing or Section 8 rent subsidies at the Fall River, New Bedford and Brockton Housing Authorities
III. Call out housing problems you are concerned about and/or experiencing
Tenants Rights re Preventing Evictions and Getting Rental Assistance
Evictions—14 Day Notice to Quit give if behind on rent, 30 Day Notice of eviction for any other reason, Summary Process court hearing on the eviction, Filing an ANSWER,
Rent Increases, Rent withholding when there’s code violations,
Federal CDC Eviction Moratorium, through June 30, If tenants fills out the CDC Eviction Moratorium, Eviction Protection Declaration, print out, fill out sign it, and give a copy to the landlord and bring a copy to court hearing, the eviction is put on hold and the tenant has time to apply for rental assistance under RAFT and ERMA. FORM is at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/EvictionDeclare_d508.pdf
Legal Rights for Tenants https://www.masslegalhelp.org/legal-tactics
Eviction Diversion Initiative https://www.mass.gov/info-details/eviction-diversion-initiative-service-organization-trainings#eviction-diversion-initiative-training
Apply for RAFT and ERMA to help pay rent or mortgage owed because of unemployment or loss of wages due to COVID…apply at NeighborWorks Housing Solutions go to https://nhsmass.org/raft-program/or call (781) 422-4204
MRVP (Mobile Rental Voucher Program) state rent subsidy certificates, Section 8 federal rent subsidy certificates, RAFT (Residential Assistance for Families in Transition) and ERMA (Emergency Rental Assistance Program) to pay back rent and mortgage payments owed.
Apply for rent subsidies at the Fall River Housing Authority and the New Bedford Housing Authority.
Legal Services to help with threatened evictions, foreclosures, utility shut offs; South Coastal Counties Legal Services; in Fall River at (508) 676-6265 and in New Bedford at (508) 979-7150
- Homeowner rights and preventing foreclosures
- Forbearance to put payments owed until the end of the mortgage; various federal regulations require most banks to offer these in increments that can go up 18 months….about 2/3 of mortgages insured by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, VA, Agriculture allow homeowners to apply through June 30. About 1/3 of mortgages are private security mortgage or portfolio loans and can include forbearance but probably for not as long as the other types of mortgages. NeighborWorks Housing Solutions can help homeowners negotiate forbearance with banks and ways to prevent foreclosures….Cindy Pendergast 617-770-2227 x346
- Homeowner Assistance Program…federal money from the American Rescue Plan coming to MA that homeowners who lost income during the COVID-19 can apply for to pay months of mortgages owned, property taxes owed, utilities owed
- Emergency assistance on mortgage payments owed…under RAFT and ERMA programs; at NeighborWorks Housing Solutions go to https://nhsmass.org/raft-program/
or call (781) 422-4204
Programs for affordable Homeownership
- MassHousing, state housing finance agency, has lower interest rate program, https://www.masshousing.com/home-ownership
- One Mortgage homeownership program, lower interest rate mortgage, no points, no private mortgage insurance…go to https://www.mhp.net/one-mortgage, first time homebuyer classes at Catholic Social Services, NeighborWorks, Housing Solutions (first negotiated in 1990 by MA Affordable Housing Alliance and administered by MA Housing Partnership)
- STASH Black Homeownership Program; if you complete MA Affordable Housing Alliance’s First Time Homebuyer class, you qualify for the One Mortgage affordable mortgage program and can join the STASH Black Homeownership program where savings for down payment are matched
- First time homebuyer classes at Catholic Social Services, NeighborWorks Housing Solutions
VII. Non-profit housing development groups
NeighborWorks Housing Solutions at 80 Rivet Street, New Bedford. 774-328-9925 or 781-422-4200
VIII. Solutions Framework; need both..
$ from local, state, federal government needed to make rent levels and homeownership cost affordable
A rent control/rent regulation law to limit rent gouging and arbitrary evictions….requires passage by the Legislature and Governor signing it or overriding his veto
Local Affordable Housing campaigns
- CPA (Community Preservation Act) was passed by referendum in both New Bedford and Fall River, but not yet in Brockton, is a small surcharge on property taxes that goes to a city fund where 10% is spent on affordable housing, 10% on historic preservation, 10% on open space preservation and the other 70% can be split amongst these 3 uses or all go to one use….you can research how much goes to housing and if it’s not a substantial overall %, this is something to try to change
- CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) is an annual federal block grant to cities. It can be used for housing, economic development, park and street repair, social services. You can review your city’s spending plan and if you feel not enough is going to housing, you can campaign to change that.
- Inclusionary Development program—a city can require a % of new market rate developments to have a percentage of affordable rental or homeownership units OR the developer can make a per unit payment into an affordable housing fund….Quincy, Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, etc. have this policy
- HOME is another federal block grant but just for housing programs and you can review how your city is allocating the funding amongst different housing needs.
- New Bedford, Brockton, Fall River are getting many tens of millions from the recently passed federal American Rescue Plan that is going directly to cities and can be used for a wide group of uses including housing.
State Housing Campaigns
- COVID Eviction bill. COVID-19 Housing Equity Bill Evictions HD 3030 of Rep. Kevin Honan and Frank Moran and SD1802 of Senator Pat Jehlen. The COVID-19 Housing Equity Bill will protect public health, prevent displacement, and address the serious financial distress resulting from the COVID-19 emergency, by:
1) requiring parties to first seek rental assistance before filing an eviction case; 2) protecting the most vulnerable tenants from forcible eviction for COVID-19 related debt; 3) pausing no-fault or no cause evictions during the state of emergency and recovery period 12 months after the state of emergency. 4) reinstating a pause on foreclosures and instituting forbearance requirements mirroring federal policies; and; 5) requiring the state to adopt equitable principles, flexibility, and simplification in the distribution of rental assistance funds. From the Homes for All Coalition.
- Bill to allow communities to have rent control HD 3676 An Act enabling local options for tenant protections. Regulates rents in evictions…does not cover 1-3 unit owner occupied houses.
- Deeds Excise Tax increase to raise money for affordable housing
Raising the Deeds Excise Tax HD 1252 by Rep. Nika Elugardo and SD 611 by Senator Jamie Eldridge. This has not been raised in 50 years and funding to go to affordable housing (rent subsidies for low income people AND for affordable housing production) AND to climate change building resilience. Would still leave our Deeds Excise Tax below levels of most surrounding states. From the HERO Coalition.
State budget programs for housing like funding level increase for MRVP, state rent subsidies to low income tenants.
See Citizens Housing and Planning Association CHAPA.org and click on Housing Policy
See MA Association of Community Development Corporations (MACDC) https://www.macdc.org/2021-advocacy-agenda
Ex. Fall River Family Shelter, etc.
Ex. Harbour House, Sr. Rose’s House, Luis E. Martinez Homeless Shelter– New Bedford
Ex. Fr. Bill’s Place/Main Spring House in Brockton, see list at https://www.homelessshelterdirectory.org/cgi-bin/id/city.cgi?city=Brockton&state=MA
Legislative and budget agenda at the state level on helping current homeless people and preventing homelessness- of MA Coalition for the Homeless; https://mahomeless.org/public-policy/ and also the MA Housing Shelter Alliance