New Housing Agreement Aims To Keep Rent Low, Tenants In Place In Boston

BOSTON (CBS) – Mary Wright has lived in her Jamaica Plain apartment for almost 30 years.

Ten years ago, she was nearly evicted when her building’s new owner raised her monthly rent from $300 to $1,800.

“You don’t know where you’re gonna go when rent is so high,” explained Wright.

A judge stepped in and she stayed. But the agreement will soon expire and Wright is worried once again.

“If we can get someone just to buy the place and keep it affordable, I would love to still be here,” she said.

A new Boston housing program may be just what she’s looking for.

Mary Wright. (WBZ-TV)

Mary Wright. (WBZ-TV)

The initiative is called the Acquisition Opportunity Program. The goal is to keep rent low and tenants in place.

“We’re still seeing a lot of buildings bought and tenants are being asked to leave and the mayor is very concerned about displacement,” said Boston’s Chief of Housing Sheila Dillon.

Dillon says the program would give loans to allow non-profit and for-profit developers to buy occupied buildings.

The initiative is a pilot program that will give $7.5 million in loans. Dillon told WBZ-TV that it’s enough for 100 units.

“We absolutely see that this is a step in the right direction,” said Lisa Owens.

Owens is the executive director of City Life/Vida Urbana, a 40-year-old housing justice nonprofit organization.

“We’re in a crisis. We’re in a displacement crisis, so neighborhoods after neighborhoods are experiencing rising rents while we’re also experiencing stagnant or declining wages,” explained Owens.

City Life helped Mary form a tenant association to stop her eviction. She’s hopeful about the city’s new plan.

“I like the plan – if it works,” Wright said.


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