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2023 - Present: The work continues in Mel King's honor...

On March 28, 2023, the world lost the incredible innovator, organizer, liberator, and leader Mel King. Mel was an integral leader and member of the City Rent Subsidy Coalition representing “Love Is the Question and the Answer”. Mel joined the City Rent Subsidy Coalition to win Mayor Walsh’s commitment of City funds for low income rent subsidies. Arriving in person in a wheelchair to push the Mayor in 2019, Mel was forceful and effective in helping persuade the Mayor to act. This was perhaps one of Mel’s last organizing campaigns. As Mel told the press in January 2020 when Walsh announced the plan, “Teamwork Makes the Dreamwork.” Up to 900 houseless families and individuals will find permanent homes as a result. Click here to read Michael Kane's reflections on his decades-long organizing collaboration and friendship with Mel. We continue our work in Mel's honor. Rest in Power and Love, Mel. 

RSC continues to meet with the BHA and advocate for the best use of allocated funds / vouchers to ensure that as many eligible families of all configurations and experiences in Boston who would not otherwise qualify for housing can access the City Rent Rent Subsidy Program. We continue to advocate to expand the program to support families in remaining stably housed in their homes and communities, and provide new housing opportunities for those who had to survive doubled up, in shelters, or on the street. 

2022 / FY23: CRSP gets a funding increase!

The final Boston budget approved on June 30, increased the City Rent Subsidy Program to $9.75 million/year!  This is a major victory for the CRSC — we had advocated to increase the $5 million pilot program, by doubling it this year! 

Mayor Wu had originally requested $7.5 million/year in her budget, an increase of $2.5 million but short of the CRSC goal. On June 6, the Council voted to increase this, to $10m and offset the extra cost with cuts to the Fire and Police Departments. The Mayor vetoed the police cuts and responded back with a $9.35 million offer.

The Council voted - unanimously - to override the Mayor's veto for the City Rent Subsidy Program, by adding back $400,000 above the Mayor’s offer.  The new total is $4.75 million more than the original pilot program, enough to provide permanent housing for up to 975 extremely low income and/or homeless families!

Thanks to all CRSC members and allies who advocated to the Council to win this victory! On the Council, we owe particular thanks to Councilor Bok, who crafted the creative “offset” that was partially adopted by the Mayor, along with Councilor Lara; Councilor Anderson, who shepherded the partial veto override with the Subsidy increase through the Council; and Councilor Louijeunne, who was a tireless and vocal advocate for the Subsidy program throughout the Council’s “working sessions”.  In the end, ALL the Councilors voted to support the Subsidy Program veto override!!  

The final vote also included language prioritizing utilizing City Rent Subsidies to deepen affordability of the City’s IDP moderate income housing units—a point CRSC members John Labella and Michael Kane emphasized in testimony before the Council. 

2020 / FY21: OUR WIN!

After years of advocating for renters across the city of Boston, the City Rent Subsidy Coalition celebrated a major victory January 7, 2020 at Mayor Martin J. Walsh's annual State of the City Address. Acknowledging the ever-growing housing crisis, the mayor announced Boston’s first ever city-funded rental vouchers so more low-income families can be stable and secure. The program is a $5 million dollar pilot that will save the homes of many across the city! This announcement is a direct result of the advocacy efforts of MAHT over the course of years and their leading role in the City Rent Subsidy Coalition. This was a truly magnificent start to the decade! You can read the Coalition's press release here or below.

Coalition Applauds "Bold and Historic" Walsh Commitment for City-Funded Rent Subsidy Program

The City Rent Subsidy Coalition (CRSC)-32 Boston-based housing advocacy organizations-- today hailed Mayor
Walsh's "bold and historic" proposal to create a City-funded Rent Subsidy Program to enable low income renters to stay in
Boston. The proposal would supplement the federal Section 8 program by increasing low income units in new mixed
income housing and providing "Housing First" for Boston residents who are currently experiencing homelessness.
"This is very much needed to deal with the City's housing crisis," said Ronda Jackson of the Save Our Section
8/City Policy Committee, a Section 8 Voucher coalition which first proposed the plan in 2015. "We've been fighting for this a
long time. We're very excited its now coming to fruition!." Adds CRSC member and legendary Boston leader Mel King,
"Teamwork makes the dreamwork!"

The City is planning a $5 million per year pilot program starting next year, following a six month planning period.
"The $5 million pilot announced tonight will keep up to 500 people facing displacement or on the streets in permanent
homes," said Michael of the CRSC and the Mass Alliance of HUD Tenants, which anchors the CRSC. "We look forward to
working with the Mayor to implement the pilot and expand funding to address Boston's housing emergency.." Recently, Mayor Walsh filed a Home Rule Petition, initiated by Councilors Edwards and Janey, at the Statehouse to allow Boston to enact up to a 2% transfer fee on private real estate sales over $2 million. If passed by the legislature, the fee would generate up to $200 million per year for affordable housing in Boston. If half of these funds were committed to
expand the new pilot program, up to 10,000 at-risk low income families could be assisted.


Mayor Walsh's Housing Report, Housing in a Changing City, identified 21,100 families earning less than $25,000 per
year who will need rent subsidies to stay in the City. "We call on other cities to follow Boston's leadership to commit and
expand resources for people experiencing or facing homelessness in their communities," said Robert Folan-Johnson of the
Boston Homeless Solidarity Committee and ACT UP/Boston. "We urge the legislature to step up and allow cities like
Boston to address their local needs."

Adds John LaBella of Housing Works, "My company handles the waitlists for 100s of properties in the Boston area.
We see that the number of full-time employed households who are homeless or at-risk has exploded in the last several
years. The Mayor's plan will give households that work in Boston a chance to remain in the City. It's the right thing to do."
MAHT initiated the effort in 2013 in response to a sudden cutback in federal Section 8 funds that threatened 500
families with displacement. Since 2016, the CRSC has met twice with Mayor Walsh and several times with leaders of the
Department of Neighborhood Development the Boston Planning and Development Agency, the Boston Housing Authority,
the Neighborhood Housing Trust, and the City Budget Office and Policy Offices. The CRSC proposal has received strong
support from City Councilors, most recently in a letter initiated by Councilor Lydia Edwards and signed by 11 Councilors in
May 2019 urging the Mayor to implement a pilot program.

A list of Coalition members and supporters, and the Coalition and Council's most recent letters to the Mayor and
other background information can be found at

2018 / FY19: Housing Now!

Throughout 2017, 2018, and 2019 we organized call-in campaigns, mailings, standouts, and rallies; met with City Councilors and appointed officials; gained support from 11 of the 13 Councilors; testified at hearings; and continued to build power and expand the City Rent Subsidy Coalition to 32 member organizations.

In March, CRSC submitted a memo to Mayor Walsh requesting he include a City Rent Subsidy Program in his FY19 budget. He did not include it in his initial FY19 budget, but there is still time to convince him to include it in his final FY19 budget, due June 23. You can read the memo by clicking here.

In April, ten of the thirteen Boston City Councilors submitted a memo to Mayor Walsh requesting he include a $5million pilot City Voucher Program to house 400+ community members to Mayor Walsh. You can read the letter by clicking here

On April 30th, Councilor Mark Ciommo held a hearing on the Department of Neighborhood Development budget where several CRSC members and four City Councilors, including Council President Andrea Campbell, spoke in support of including the program in the FY19 budget.  

On Saturday May 5th, the Mass Alliance of HUD Tenants (MAHT) and Boston Homeless Solidarity Committee (BHSC) tabled at the Wake Up the Earth Festival. We were joined by former City Councilor Tito Jackson, who has been a strong supporter of the proposal and voted against Mayor Walsh's final FY18 budget due to it not being included. We spoke with over 350 community members, encouraging them to call Mayor Walsh to request he fund the program this year.

MAHT and BHSC have sent hand address letters to all 440 residents and owners of Millennium Tower appealing for their support. We have requested that they call Mayor Walsh and ask him to use their taxes to fund the proposed program. The $10.9 million paid each year by  Millennium Tower owners alone would fund 1,000 project based rent subsidies to provide permanent homes for people currently living on the streets. The letter can be read by clicking here

2016-2017: Housing Not Warehousing!

On June 22, 2016, a delegation of the Mass Alliance of HUD Tenants, the Boston Homeless Solidarity Committee, Save Our Section 8/City Policy Committee, City Mission, Material Aid and Advocacy Program, Mel King and others, met with Mayor Walsh to urge inclusion of a $5 million pilot program for Housing First Subsidies, as proposed by nine City Councilors, in the 2016 city budget submission. 

In our meeting, we proposed a flexible rental assistance program, modeled on the successful Local Rent Supplement Program in Washington, DC. The DC program dedicates $37 million from the regular city budget annually to fund 3,248 low-income families and individuals through a mix of project-based and tenant-based rental assistance, similar to the federal Section 8 program.  

As in DC, we propose that the Boston Housing Authority administer the program locally; the BHA currently administers approximately 11,000 mobile Section 8 certificates and 2,500 “Project Based Vouchers”, the latter ensuring that low-income renters can live in new mixed income housing developments.    As in DC, we propose that priority be given to currently homeless or near homeless Bostonians, to provide the “Housing First” called for in the Mayor’s Plan to End Chronic and Veterans Homelessness. As in DC, or more locally in Cambridge, we propose that Boston’s program pay 130% of FMR for mobile vouchers, to better enable recipients to find housing in the City. 

Mayor Walsh did not include the $5 million for a pilot program to house 400+ individual residents and families experiencing homelessness in his 2016 city budget submission citing the lack of a sustainable funding source. He suggested the Community Preservation Act (CPA) and since then we have advocated for the CPA, which passed in November 2016, and identified four other sustainable funding sources which you can read about here.

In March of 2017, we had another meeting with Walsh to discuss the 5 sustainable funding sources and again he would not include the program in his FY18 budget suggesting that there are better options for housing and not agreeing that it can be sustainable. ​

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