April 7: Urgent Appeal – Get Our Families Housed!

Dear friends, 

I’m writing today with a very specific appeal: do you, or anyone you know, have a vacant apartment in Boston available to rent to one of our local families?

We have five hundred local families who are currently holding federal housing vouchers but have not yet found an apartment. In our City Council meeting tomorrow, I, and my colleague Annissa Essaibi-George, will be bringing forward a resolution urging any property owner with a vacancy in Boston — whether a single unit in a townhouse or a number of units across a multifamily portfolio — to reach out to the Boston Housing Authority and try to get one of our voucher-holder families safely housed in each vacant unit.

Now more than ever, it is imperative that Boston’s families who are staying in shelters or are otherwise homeless get access to permanent housing, where they can find stability and properly practice the physical distancing needed to reduce COVID-10 transmission. A recent Boston Globe article highlighted the extreme challenges of being homeless during this pandemic. 

As you may have seen, in a partnership between the Boston Housing Authority and the Boston Public Schools, 1,000 more local families experiencing homelessness will be issued vouchers in the coming months. Yet these vouchers will only serve to house these families in this emergency if property owners accept them. So I’ve been working with partners at the BHA to spread the word about this critical need.

Before becoming a city councilor, I was involved in a successful effort to allow our housing vouchers to pay more so that they can match market rents in most Boston neighborhoods. This means that they can provide important financial stability to landlords in this uncertain time, as the federal government guarantees the rent. 

Housing a family in this crisis is an act of great human solidarity and a concrete way that Bostonians of all means can help one another to safely weather this public health emergency. If you are a property owner with a vacancy, please go here to list that unit, or reach out to Thomas White at Thomas.White@bostonhousing.org or 617‐988‐4540. The BHA is committed to expediting its administrative processes to house voucher-holder families as quickly as possible during this time.

For many years, housing discrimination and administrative barriers have made it too difficult for our low-income families to use Housing Choice Vouchers to stay in Boston. This pandemic is highlighting every respect in which our society’s greatest injustices put us all at risk, and showing us what we already knew: that everyone needs a home to be safe. I’ve seen so many Bostonians reaching out to help one another during this crisis already, and renting vacant apartments to families with vouchers is another crucial step.

I will be speaking to the importance of this resolution at the City Council meeting tomorrow, Wednesday, April 8. The meeting starts at 12PM and can be watched on City Council TV here.

All the best,

Kenzie

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