Sunday, March 20, 2016

Expiring Section 8, State Subsidy Contracts w/ Landlords, Skyrocketing Rents Leave Over 16,000 Low-Income Families Receiving Rental Assistance Across Bay State In Fear Of Getting The Boot By 2018

In Boston, Massachusetts, NewBostonPost reports:
  • For Holly Marcus, the fear of having to leave her North End neighborhood after nearly 40 years is beginning to feel real.

    Marcus was one of dozens of Massachusetts residents who showed up at the State House on Tuesday morning to testify for a proposal that would prevent landlords from acting on expiring federal restrictions that currently shelter subsidized apartments from the forces of supply and demand.

    “The city should be accessible for every income and not just for the wealthy,” Marcus told the NewBostonPost before Tuesday’s public hearing, held by the Joint Committee on Housing. “I’m 56 years old now, and the North End has been my home since I was 18.”

    Marcus’s sliver of the city, however, is just one of many Boston residences in high demand. According to a 2015 Northeastern University study, rents citywide have risen steadily since 2009 and now average $2,100 per month for a one-bedroom unit.

    Tuesday’s hearing saw emotional testimony from disabled and elderly residents and those living primarily on Social Security payments, like Joe Perry, a Marcus neighbor at Mercantile Wharf, an apartment building featuring 85 subsidized units.

    “I was lucky to get in there,” Walsh told the committee.
    “This is critical as more than 16,440 families across the state currently face the expiration of federal HUD and state subsidy contracts on their multifamily apartment buildings by 2018,” [Rep. Frank] Smizik (D-Brookline) said.

    Committee member and state Rep. Marjorie Decker (D-Cambridge) expressed concern over the statistics offered by Smizik and said that rents are “out of whack” in Cambridge. “If we don’t enact this piece of legislation, the question we’re going to have to ask ourselves is, ‘What are we doing to ensure that families don’t go into homelessness?” Decker said. “Once they’re homeless, the cost to the state is far greater.”

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