By Kimberly Rau, MassLandlords writer
Every year, MassLandlords looks to recognize a non-member for their work benefitting either a member, their renters, or our shared mission to create better rental housing. The process is entirely member-driven, with nominations taken throughout the year and voting occurring at MassLandlords’ annual meeting in December, when the winner is decided. The winner is notified and presented with a plaque signifying their award.
“It’s a great way for you to thank a local police officer, elected official, plumber or friend for helping you in your business,” we wrote in our 2019 call for nominations.
Past and Current Good Neighbor Award Winners
The first Good Neighbor Award went to Joan Crowell in 2014. Crowell is the director of the AWARE (Accurate Worcester Assessments on Real Estate) coalition, a group that provides education and resources about tax assessment in the city of Worcester. Crowell was honored for her efforts in tax education and advocacy through the group.
In 2015, MassLandlords recognized Jamie Williamson, who then led the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. The job of the MCAD is to investigate and prosecute violations of equal housing law. And while that may not seem specifically landlord-friendly, as this page outlining her award shows, Williamson voluntarily spoke to landlord groups across the state to educate and prevent violations and litigation. In the Worcester area, she was MassLandlords’ highest-rated speaker at the time of her award. Her efforts to educate landlords about state laws and fair housing practices earned her the one of the earliest Good Neighbor Awards.
In 2016, MassLandlords recognized Representative Chris Walsh for his efforts to draft a proposal for a bipartisan rent escrow bill. The bill would have eliminated the “free rent trick” while still providing protections for tenants who withhold rent in order to get legitimate problems with their rental addressed. While the future of the bill was still uncertain at the end of 2016, MassLandlords still recognized Rep. Walsh “for having months of difficult conversations with ideologically opposite people. We need more of this in Massachusetts—and America.”
2017’s winner was Stuart Schrier, an attorney from Dorchester who testified against the Jim Brooks Stabilization Act (now tabled, but formerly H.4142) at the March 6, 2017, Boston City Council meeting. His testimony pointed out that the Act as worded violated fair debt collection practices. Other landlords had denounced the bill as an underhanded form of rent control. Attorney Schrier said that if the legislature approved the bill, he would seek to enjoin the city against enforcement. His efforts to oppose the bill earned him the award later in 2017.
In 2018, MassLandlords members voted to give Chief Justice Timothy Sullivan the Good Neighbor Award. “Judge Sullivan has gone above and beyond to participate in landlord events across the state,” said part of his letter of nomination. “Few public officials are as feedback-oriented as Judge Sullivan, and none are as interested in hearing our perspective as providers of rental housing.” However, in an effort not to appear to be endorsed by any particular group or interest, Sullivan declined to accept the award.
In December 2019, the voters chose Chief Deputy Sheriff of Hampden County Robert Hoffman as MassLandlords’ Good Neighbor. “[His] volunteerism at a Saturday [MassLandlords] Crash Course event, as well as his deep empathy in a very difficult line of work, earned him recognition as our 2019 Good Neighbor,” the ballot results page stated. Sheriff Hoffman was mailed his award in early 2020.
Good Neighbor Award Rebrand: 2020 will be skipped in name only
Plaques prior to 2020 have featured the year of nomination. However, when future recipients receive their plaque, the plaque will say the coming year instead of the year of nomination. This is a result of an award rebranding: Because MassLandlords members do not vote on Good Neighbors until the end of the calendar year, winners are not presented with their award until sometime early in the next year. This results in a retroactive title. Going forward, the plaque will reflect the present calendar year, so that winners can enjoy their title for an entire year.
“I enjoy giving out the Good Neighbor Award each year,” said MassLandlords Executive Director Douglas Quattrochi. “Usually, recipients are surprised and appreciative. Housing can be a thankless business at times, especially in time of crisis, but at least our members see all the work that so many are doing to make the Commonwealth a better place.”
Fill out and submit our nomination form.