Mayor seeks right to levy additional fees to boost affordable housing; give tenants new rights

Mayor Walsh said this morning he is introducing a series of bills in the state legislature that, if enacted, would let the city increase the fees developers of commercial buildings have to pay into a fund aimed at increasing the stock of affordable housing, increase the surcharge on all property transactions for affordable housing, parks and historical preservation, ban arbitrary evictions of people over 75, give some low-income residents the right to a lawyer in eviction proceedings and give groups of tenants in buildings going condo the right to buy the building from its owner.

Fees

According to the mayor's office:

Current legislation mandates that a fee per square foot would be directed to the Neighborhood Housing Trust Fund and The Neighborhood Jobs Trust, with the City being allowed to take a Consumer Price Index (CPI) adjustment every three years. However, given the cyclical nature of building booms, greater flexibility has proven necessary to share the benefits of current economic growth with more residents. In order to provide Boston with the ability to make responsible adjustments to the Linkage formula as needed, the bill would eliminate the restriction on making adjustments only once every three years.

Also:

To be filed by the Community Preservation Coalition, an Act to Sustain Community Preservation Act Revenue would protect the Community Preservation Act (CPA) revenue that more than 170 cities and towns depend on for the creation of affordable housing, open space, and historic preservation. It would increase the fees for recording deeds to return the state match to closer to 50 percent. In 2018, after Boston joined the coalition of cities and towns that receive CPA funds, the match was just 19 percent.

Tenant rights

Landlords of buildings with at least six units would have to show a good reason for evicting tenants over 75, such as the failure to cause rent or causing damage to the unit. "No fault" evictions of such tenants, for example, to clear their units to make way for condos, would be prohibited, under the proposal.

Under another proposal:

An Act to Ensure Right to Counsel in Eviction Proceedings: would provide certain low-income tenants facing eviction with a court-appointed attorney for representation, increasing housing and economic stability for vulnerable households.

A third proposal would give tenants in buildings with at least five units the right of first refusal to buy the building should the landlord put it on the market:

The Act would allow the tenants match any bona fide offer to sell the property or to assign their right to purchase to a non-profit acting on their behalf.

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Comments

Very little protections after

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Very little protections after the damage has been done. They need to take aim at these overpriced "Luxury" towers that are driving up prices in the neighborhood.

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Why?

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What neighborhoods are putting up luxury "towers" that are driving up prices? Can you explain how adding towers of expensive housing is driving up prices of existing housing stock?

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Trickle Down Means You're Just Peeing On My Head

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It's very simple. Owners of older buildings see the neighborhood as "developing" or "gentrifying" when luxury towers go up, and thus raise their rents or selling prices accordingly. Or drive out tenants so they can sell their property to have it razed in favor of yet another luxury tower.

This is not dissimilar to the way you can't highway your way out of traffic problems, as it just creates induced demand.

If you want an overview of how this all works, check out this video series and this video in particular that covers the subject of gentrification, utilizing Cities: Skylines:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LdeirDrinWk&t=830s

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How many neighborhoods have "luxury towers" going up?

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Maybe downtown, Back Bay, Fenway along Boylston, Seaport, South Boston along Dot Ave., South End along Harrison/Albany... Wait a minute, these are places where taller buildings should be built.

Of course, in Boston, a "luxury tower" must mean any building taller than five stories.

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empty apartments must be targeted.

Apartments bought as investments increase rents for local residents. These buildings create housing stock that never enters the actual market. If all of the apartments in boston were occupied the rents and prices would be less. Now the low income housing is becoming more scarce because scattered site shelter pays more than Section 8.

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This right here

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Is in my opinion the single most effective way to combat aggressive gentrification and Manhattanization of Boston. Our precious space should be utilized as the precious commodity it is rather than being turned into a boutique investment. The best part about this is that the CITY will have control over it. If were going to have a mayor's office that operates unfettered in this city it should reflect needs and wants of the majority of the city and not special interests. The city could institute this and produce more money for affordable housing and reduce units that are not lived in / unused investment vehicles.

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Great subject line

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Trickle Down Means You're Just Peeing On My Head

Congrats BlackKat, one of the best "headlines" I've ever seen, even better than many of Adam's, and he's really good at it. Your move, Adam.

Of course, nothing will ever equal the immortal "Headless Body in Topless Bar".

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What is a "luxury tower"?

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I'm baffled by the term "luxury housing". It seems to be slur for "market rate housing".

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That implies that people live there.

These luxury towers are filled with empty apartments bought as investments. Because of the scarcity, housing is being used a commodity only. Market rate rents are driven up not because actually housing is scarce, but because long term leases are scarce. The rise in rent rolls down on non luxury housing.

Luxury Towers are vulnerable to bubbles as well. These investments can be leveraged with low interest rate loans. Up to 375K, the interest on the loans can be deducted. If you rent the property for less than 14 days per year, you don't have to report that income. However, if interest rates go up, then real estate could have a semi collapse.

So basically I am saying that if these Luxury Towers apartments never go on the rental market then you can't call it market rate housing.

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Because

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Spending more per capita than virtually every other city in the state is somehow not enough.

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Spending on what?

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Do you mean that Boston spends more on developing affordable housing than other cities? Or that the city's overall budget amounts to more per head than other municipalities? Just wondering.

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Total budget

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Did an analysis of 25 largest cities a few years ago. Except possibly for Cambridge, Boston was head and shoulders above the rest.

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Still don't understand

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But WHAT spending did you analyze? Spending on affordable housing, or the total city budget?

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Right to a lawyer in eviction proceedings? Not a new thing.

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Every tenant is entitled to a lawyer, either at their own expense or pro-bono from one of the "non-profit" legal groups out there. I tried to evict a Level 2 sex offender living beside a school and not paying rent. He obtained a Harvard Law trained lawyer (and her team of law students) for free and the "resolution" was for ME TO PAY HIM $2000 to leave. My lawyer said it was worth it. If a tenant wants a lawyer, he/she will get one, regardless of ability to pay.

The MA eviction process is greatly tilted toward the tenant already. Many landlords are PAYING a tenant in arrears to move out. Most of these tenants are "pros" moving from one apartment for a year or two and only paying first and last up front, nothing for the rest of their stay which could last months or years given rigid court requirements for landlords.

Be careful of taking a security deposit. I believe by law, it needs to be put into an escrow account with both the landlord and tenant's name. Failure to do so can result in treble damages and our liberal judges are more than happy to rule against the landlord. Even the best lawyers specializing in representing small landlords say some of the laws/requirements are impossible to figure out. Sad for those trying to provide housing.

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"Trying to provide housing"

I'd like to buy a house on Comm Ave by BC, bulldoze it, and stick 10 stories on the lot. It's a walk to the T, and a walk, of course, to BC.

All I have to do is write the business plan, get the loan, hire the contractors, and get the permits, right? It's that easy, right? I'm a genius! How has nobody else had the idea, in a community with an obvious housing shortage, to build a big building which takes up a small amount of ground space where many people can live?

Laws which favor the tenant are one of the very few examples of government getting fairness right. If Boston had 685,000 units of shelter to be purchased, every Bostonian would have a home, and there would be no rental market.

But since civic engagement declines with available free time, only the wealthiest get to have voices in how much housing exists. And when their own shelter serves as a profit center, guess what? They're not super eager to have more shelter in existence.

Elect people in their 60s and 70s again. AOC might have a lot to learn about how things actually work, but the (expletive) detector is chirping.

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Massachusetts does not

Massachusetts does not currently have any statewide sex offender residency restrictions. So this info is available online, why didn't you check ahead of time? What's so hard about putting a security deposit in escrow?

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