Mayor Walsh Announces New Action Plan on Evictions in Boston
Building upon his commitment to employ new strategies to preserve and create affordable housing and prevent displacement in Boston's neighborhoods, Mayor Martin J. Walsh today released An Action Plan to Reduce Evictions in Boston. This Action Plan presents the recommendations of the Eviction Prevention Task Force, a coalition of non-profit tenant advocacy organizations, housing service providers, legal aid organizations, the real estate community, and key City of Boston staff from both the Boston Housing Authority (BHA) and the Department of Neighborhood Development (DND). The report details the current landscape for evictions in Boston, and recommends expansion of programs and services that have made an impact in preventing an increase in the number of evictions in Boston, despite the competitive housing market. Nationally, Boston is ranked 178th in eviction execution rates for large US cities.
"As Boston continues to grow and with new residents and new opportunities, we must continue our hard work to ensure that our current residents are able to remain in the city they call home," Mayor Walsh said. "This action plan lays out a roadmap for how we can increase access to programs and services that are working, and reduce the number of evictions that are happening in Boston. I look forward to our continued work ahead to create strong, stable neighborhoods for all."'
The Action Plan presents an analysis of the current eviction landscape in Boston, and examines the data collected by the Office of Housing Stability and HomeStart, Inc. from the Eastern District Housing Court over three years, from 2015 through 2017. While the total number of eviction cases filed for those three years remained relatively level at approximately 5,000 cases per year, the number of eviction executions, or cases where the tenancy was ended by court order, declined by 10 percent over that same time period, to 1,952 cases in 2017 versus 2,172 cases in 2015. The 1,952 tenancies represents one percent of all rental households in Boston.
The Action Plan provides an overview on the effects of evictions and the effective existing programs and services that are available, and sets a goal for reducing evictions by 33 percent in subsidized housing, and 25 percent in private housing over the next five years. These reductions will be accomplished by specific expansions of effective existing programs, as well as new initiatives. These recommendations are a blueprint for the work that the Eviction Prevention Task Force will undertake over the next five years.
"The success the City of Boston has had preventing evictions - through programs, property owner outreach, and legislation - is tied directly to the focus and energy of the Eviction Prevention Task Force," said Steve Farrell, Director of Communications and Policy for Metro Housing Boston. "Metro Housing has worked with the City of Boston and the Office of Housing Stability since the inception of the Eviction Prevention Task Force and we are committed to continuing on and enacting the City's action plan."
The blueprint implements eight key goals for reducing evictions in Boston in addition to the overall reductions mentioned above.
Increase housing production that is affordable to households with very low and extremely low incomes.
Increase, and make more widely known, the resources to reduce the number of evictions due to rent arrearages.
Expand capacity and access to legal representation via new legislation and funding.
Improve and disseminate information on best practices and tenant and landlord rights and responsibilities.
Design early warning protocols and educate property managers and owners on how to utilize them to prevent eviction.
Improve data collection.
Replicate successful eviction prevention models.
Track results in collaboration with its nonprofit partners and continue to collect, make available, and analyze this data to evaluate plan progress.
"Maloney Properties appreciates the work that the City's Eviction Prevention Task Force is doing to prevent evictions in Boston," said Janet Frazier, President and CEO of Maloney Properties. "As a property management company, we understand the devastating effects of eviction on families and everyone in our communities. We were honored to have been asked to participate on the Task Force. With Mayor Walsh's help we look forward to continuing to push for better resources to prevent evictions and create more stable housing for the residents of Boston."
The Walsh Administration is focused on ensuring that Boston is an equitable city by supporting thoughtful growth, building a housing supply that is affordable to residents across all income levels and creating policies and tools to protect residents from evictions. To that end, in 2016, Mayor Walsh created the City of Boston's Office of Housing Stability, the first of its kind in the nation. The office is designed to keep communities intact by helping tenants maintain their housing. The Office's work includes supporting tenants who are in crisis; creating and offering resources, programs, and information for both tenants and landlords to learn about their rights and responsibilities; and researching and creating policies that aim to prevent displacement.
The Office also oversees the Metrolist, a clearinghouse for income-restricted housing opportunities in Boston and neighboring communities. The office also hosts evening clinics to offer housing support for both tenants and landlords to understand their rights, resources available to them and to work to prevent eviction filings. The Office also partners with the Community Dispute Settlement Center to provide mediation for landlord-tenant conflicts.
As part of the Administration's commitment to preventing displacement, Mayor Walsh also filed a legislative package to the State Legislature that includes anti-displacement proposals. They include measures that would allow tenants and non-profits the right of first refusal to purchase properties subject to foreclosure or short sale; the right to counsel for tenants in housing court; protections for senior tenants; and the creation of a state income tax credit for renting unsubsidized units at below market rates. Mayor Walsh has publicly testified at the State House to support passage of these proposals.
This report is part of the Walsh Administration's commitment to creating more affordable housing in Boston, and ensuring families are able to stay in their homes. To date, the Walsh Administration has committed more than $206 million in funding to the creation and preservation of affordable housing. Today's announcement builds on the City's preservation and anti-displacement goals, outlined in Housing a Changing City: Boston 2030, Mayor Walsh's housing plan, with a focus on preserving and creating affordable housing.