New Tools to Prevent Displacement
January 10, 2018
Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced the Office of Housing Stability has established two new resources to prevent displacement and eviction of tenants in Boston, one geared toward landlords and one toward tenants. The guiding principle behind both new resources is that if appropriate information and mediation is offered early in the process, many evictions can be avoided.
"We have to work together to keep our communities stable, and ensure families have access to good homes in good neighborhoods," said Mayor Walsh. "When landlords and tenants have the information they need and open lines of communication, evictions can be prevented, or have their impacts lessened. I'm grateful to all of the City's good landlords who work with their tenants to avoid conflict, and I'm proud that we're also helping tenants learn more about their rights and responsibilities."
To further prevent evictions, the City has rolled out its first ever online guide to tenants' rights when served with an eviction notice. The guide, which is also available to download, walks tenants through the steps they can take to respond to the eviction process from the moment they receive a notice to quit. The guide includes information about mediation, a guide to preparing for court, and information about resources and rights available to tenants in the event a judge orders them to leave.
The Office of Housing Stability has found that tenants often do not fully understand all of their rights in an eviction proceeding, and in some cases, may be forced to leave when they otherwise might be able to stay or to receive some sort of compensation or assistance. For example, families facing a no-fault eviction have the right to file a motion asking the court to delay the eviction for up to six months so they can find new housing, and if someone in the household is disabled or over 60 years old, they may request up to 12 months. Tenants who might not otherwise know these rights can now access them in the guide, which provides easy to understand, actionable suggestions for eviction response and information about available resources.
Last month, the Office of Housing Stability hosted a workshop on preventing evictions from subsidized housing. In partnership with HomeStart, the workshop was targeted to managers, owners, resident service coordinators and other professionals who work at properties that receive subsidies. The seminar included a panel presentation on eviction prevention strategies and resources and offered an opportunity for industry professionals to hear about best practices, challenges, and goals.
Launched in 2016, the City of Boston's Office of Housing Stability is one of 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 and affordable housing opportunities in Boston and neighboring communities, and hosts evening clinics to offer housing support for tenants and landlords to meet after regular business hours, when it may be more convenient. 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 filed an anti-displacement package at the State Legislature, which includes the Jim Brooks Community Stabilization Act; an act that would allow tenants and nonprofits the right of first refusal to purchase properties subject to foreclosure or short sale; the right to counsel in housing court; and would create state income tax credits for renting unsubsidized units at below market rates.
This guide to tenants' rights 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 $100 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, and the housing goals laid out in Imagine Boston 2030, Boston's first citywide plan in 50 years. As part of both plans, Boston has prioritized increasing the overall housing supply, with a focus on creating and preserving affordable housing.