Letter from the Executive Director for May 2022: Interviews, The State Seal and Coat of Arms

In April, we supported journalism and policy research. We also ran never-before-seen event topics and looked at a very tough buyer’s market for investors.

We gave two big interviews in April. GBH asked us for input on housing prices. And later in the month, GBH asked for background on the discovery of unlawful flight attendant crash pads in Boston.

We also gave a 70+ attendee presentation at the National Fair Housing and Civil Rights Conference on the causes of eviction filings and move-outs. MassLandlords has compiled a database of over 71,000 eviction records. In a nutshell, the likeliest outcome of being filed against in Housing Court has been rental assistance, not forced move-out.

In April, we further developed our rent control histories. We are collecting all evidence from the rent control years in digital format. We obtained a high-speed book scanner to facilitate this work.

We’ve learned that our rental assistance public records lawsuit has been scheduled for its first hearing. The Department of Housing and Community Development’s motion to dismiss will be heard June 15 at 3 p.m.

April was our last month to oppose rent control and right of first refusal in committee, unless these bills are extended past their current May 9 deadline.

Last on the policy docket for April, we learned that the commission to change the Massachusetts seal and motto is moving forward. Here’s a story:

The state coat of arms depicts the sword of Myles Standish brandished above a Native American man, possibly Pecksuot. Standish murdered Pecksuot and others by knife, in cold blood at a dinner party Standish arranged in 1623 in what is now Weymouth. That this event should be commemorated in the seal was wrong even by the standards of Standish’s day. This is why history prior to recent research claimed Pecksuot died in battle a year later, in 1624. This seems to have been a cover-up.

Even if Pecksuot had died in battle, how does the commemoration of indigenous death live up to today’s standards of non-violence and non-discrimination based on race and ancestry? The seal and motto, “through the sword we seek peace,” must be changed. (If the seal had a musket and a Redcoat, would it be any better?)

The legislature’s inability to solve important but non-urgent problems like the seal is emblematic of its inability to tackle urgent problems like the housing crisis. Housing choice looks more and more a failure, with continued constrained supply. Rent levels are at record highs. Home prices are at record highs. What’s an investor to do?

Well, while we wait for our leaders to act, we can at least do our jobs as well as possible. In April, we gave instruction on our pet addendum, top 10 tips for new investors and zero emissions retrofits. There’s work to be done even if it’s very hard to add units.

MassLandlords will keep advocating for you to create better rental housing for all, particularly in support of equal housing opportunity and land use reform. Please join as a member, become a property rights supporter or increase your level of support.

Sincerely,

Douglas Quattrochi

Executive Director

MassLandlords, Inc.

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