In December, we conducted our annual elections for director, filed a petition against the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and set our goals for 2022.
Our warmest appreciation is owed to Allyson Gray, Sanjeev Reejhsinghani and Patrick Sullivan, who were all public-spirited enough to stand for election on our statewide Board of Directors. The winner of this election was Patrick Sullivan, with a total of 696 votes and average score of “4 - Support” out of five. Patrick will be signed in as one of our five directors.
Remember that MassLandlords democratic governance takes place every day as members vote in our ongoing Policy Priorities Survey.
It is clear from this survey and from speaking with members that we have policy work to do. The theme of 2022 may turn out to be “follow the money.” For example, the security deposit law has been called by one judge “one of the most poorly drafted statutes in the commonwealth.” It has remained this way for decades, likely in part because litigation remains profitable (think triple damages plus attorney’s fees) for renter advocates.
The question of what pays for whom looms large as we petition the attorney general for compliance with the security deposit law, as the Covid Eviction Legal Help Project quietly winds down (despite our request to the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation for records), and as the state continues to reject over a third of applications for rental assistance.
On this last point, we have now escalated our inquiries. Since the summer, we have asked several times in several ways to see DHCD’s processes for affirmatively furthering fair housing, dealing with timeouts and holding the regionals accountable as agencies. We were denied each time. We have filed a petition in Suffolk Superior Court to examine where rental assistance is being awarded or withheld.
We cannot predict what 2022 will bring. But we can set a couple of goals.
First, we will aim to double our economic value to landlords in Massachusetts. We will develop MassLandlords.net so that business members under the “price per unit” dues schedule can grant their entire team access to benefits. And we will advertise the Certified Massachusetts Landlord™ to renters.
Second, we will aim to assert ourselves as a housing watchdog. We are getting very good at public records requests. I will remind you of an oldie but a goodie: In 2017 we wrote Public Records Reveal [Boston Mayor Marty] Walsh Lied about Jim Brooks Act. Our goal is to realign at least one public resource (e.g., rental assistance) toward greater transparency.
So that’s where we’re headed, Covid willing. Remember we offer an impressive array of services showcased on our new join page. Thank you for supporting our mission to create better rental housing.