Boston Housing Authority development renamed in honor of Doris Buntè
Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Boston Housing Authority (BHA) Administrator Bill McGonagle today unveiled the Doris Buntè Apartments, as they renamed the BHA's Walnut Park development after Doris Buntè, in honor of her advocacy for housing, legislation, and policy work for those in need.
"I'm honored to recognize the commitment Doris has shown to low-income residents and housing over her many years of work, both in the legislature and at the BHA," said Mayor Walsh. "Today is a special day here in Roxbury, and I thank all our partners for making this recognition possible."
A former State Representative and housing advocate, Doris Buntè was born on July 2, 1933 in New York City. She attended New York Public Schools, but dropped out before earning her high school diploma. In 1953, she moved to Boston with her three children. In Boston, she attended the Commercial High School of Roxbury and was presented her high school diploma by City Council President Thomas Atkins in 1968. She enrolled in Harvard University in 1978, where she earned her M.A. degree in education.
In 1969, Buntè was nominated to the Boston Housing Authority board, making her the first female public housing tenant to serve. In 1972, she was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives, becoming the first woman of color to serve in the Massachusetts legislature, and the first female to serve in the House leadership in 68 years. While there, Buntè helped found the Black Legislative Caucus and the Caucus of Women Legislators.
After 12 years as a representative, she became Administrator of the Boston Housing Authority. As Administrator, she was responsible for the desegregation of public housing, and was a leader who created programs for resident participation and created the Youth on the Rise Program. Buntè left the Boston Housing Authority in 1992, and began working for the Center for the Study of Sport in Society at Northeastern University and the Boston University School of Public Health, where she continued tenant-focused activist work. Buntè retired in 2010.
"With this renaming event, we honor the most significant friend and staunchest advocate for the residents of public housing in the BHA's 80 year history," said BHA Administrator Bill McGonagle.
Throughout her career, Buntè focused on public housing. She held positions on the National Rent Board and in the National Tenants Organization. She served on the Critical Minority Affairs Committee, the National Association of Housing and Development, and as the Citizens Housing and Planning Association. Buntè has been featured in a mural at the historic Alvah Kittredge House, in an exhibit called "Portraits in Black: Gaining Ground, Holding Office" in the Boston and Nantucket Museum of African American History in 2004, and in "Portraits of Purpose" by Don West in 2010.
Walnut Park is an elderly/disabled public housing development that was first occupied in 1970 and contains 160 apartments.
About Boston Housing Authority (BHA)
Boston Housing Authority (BHA) provides affordable housing to more than 58,000 residents in and around the City of Boston. Residents are assisted through a combination of public housing and federal and state voucher subsidy programs that provide a wide variety of housing opportunities. As the largest public housing authority in New England, the BHA houses close to 9 percent of the city's residents. Our mission is to provide stable, quality affordable housing for low and moderate income persons; to deliver these services with integrity and mutual accountability; and to create living environments which serve as catalysts for the transformation from dependency to economic self-sufficiency.