July 30, 2015
ACE members have been working to stabilize our communities with a measure to reduce exploitative evictions. As part of the #Right2Remain campaign with Right to the City Boston, we are organizing for a Just Cause Eviction policy to stop displacement by protecting vulnerable renters. Given increasing housing costs and stagnant wages, a growing number of residents in Roxbury and across Boston are at risk of being pushed out of our communities. But we have a right to remain in our neighborhoods—where we’ve organized, grown roots, raised families and worked to improve conditions for years.
Over 67 percent of Boston residents are renters and susceptible to rising rents—about half are rent-burdened or pay more than 30 percent of their income on rent. Currently, unless a resident lives in subsidized housing, landlords can kick tenants out through “no-fault” evictions—meaning they do not need to provide a reason. Landlords can also raise rents dramatically, including doubling or tripling the price from year to year. Long-time residents, especially in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods like Dudley Square, are being forced out of homes and into an expensive rental market that offers few options for low and moderate-income people.
Under our proposed Just Cause policy, landlords with medium to large holdings in Boston have to provide a reason for eviction like failure to pay rent, property damage or breaking the terms of a lease. This measure is intended to minimize the number of no-fault evictions, used frequently by corporate property owners to remove tenants who have done nothing wrong. Additionally, if faced with a significant rent increase, tenants may be able to request non-binding mediation with their landlords and a third party, with the goal of reaching an agreement to remain in the home. The policy seeks to protect low-income residents and households with seniors, disabled people and children. Coalition partners are also exploring ways to support landlords who commit to keeping their rents stable.
Just Cause Eviction policies have been implemented in major cities like Seattle, San Francisco, Oakland, Chicago and Washington, DC, providing a crucial step toward a fair and affordable housing market. In Boston, Just Cause Eviction will need to be won by Home Rule Petition, meaning approval by both City and State government.
This summer, ACE members helped launch the campaign with organizations citywide, canvassing to collect signatures in favor of the policy. So far, we have over 900 residents signed on and are continuing to build momentum! Contact us if you’d like to participate in door-knocking and speaking with neighbors in Dudley Square about protecting and stabilizing our community.