On Tuesday, May 23, the Housing for All Caucus held its first in person meeting, and third meeting overall, with over 65 legislative offices represented by approximately 20 members and 80 staffers. This meeting featured a briefing by Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Campbell and an opportunity for caucus members to ask the AG and her staff questions about their work on housing issues.
Caucus co-chair Senator Julian Cyr offered opening remarks about some of the housing challenges facing the Cape and Islands, and co-chair Representative Mike Connolly introduced Attorney General Campbell, highlighting her lived experiences and legal and policy work relating to housing justice. AG Campbell’s biography can be viewed here. The Attorney General was joined by members of her team, including: Jamie Hoag, Chief of Staff, Anne Landry and Robert Fernandez from the Policy and Government Affairs Division, and Sherry Riva, Senior Advisor for Economic Opportunity and Mobility.
Attorney General Campbell remarked that “affordability is the number one issue in Massachusetts” and discussed her support for a number of policy positions, including a right to counsel for tenants facing eviction, opportunities for first time homeowners, the ability for cities and towns to impose a real estate transfer fee to fund local affordable housing, tenant protections, including the protections established by Ch. 257 of the Acts of 2020, which pauses eviction proceedings while a tenant has an open rental assistance application, and the HOMES Act, which would seal eviction records. She also discussed the civil enforcement action her office is taking against the town of Dover for their non-compliance with the MBTA Communities Law.
The AG also remarked on the work of the consumer protection and the Civil Rights Divisions of her office. This year, housing related complaints to her office are on track to be the highest volume complaint. So far this year her office has investigated complaints of Section 8 discrimination, the denial of reasonable accommodation for a tenant whose asthma was being exacerbated, and a pregnant tenant who was facing eviction because a landlord didn't want to remove lead paint.
The AG concluded her remarks by offering various resources from her office including the Consumer Protection hotline (617) 727-8400, the Civil Rights Division hotline (617) 963-2917, a guide on tenant-landlord rights, and an eviction help guide.
The Housing for All caucus is now planning a July meet-and-greet with newly-appointed Housing Secretary Ed Augustus, as well as a future meeting with the Citizens’ Housing and Planning Associations (CHAPA). Please do not hesitate to reach out to Senator Cyr or Rep. Connolly with thoughts or ideas for future meetings.