Boston, MA — Today, gubernatorial candidate and policy innovator Danielle Allen submitted the following testimony to the State Legislature’s Joint Committee on Housing, as part of the Committee’s hearing on new legislation to address the housing crisis:
“Hi everyone. I’m Danielle Allen, and I’m a longtime nonprofit leader and democracy advocate. I’m also running for governor. And as part of my campaign, I spent several months this year doing a listening tour — going from community to community across our Commonwealth to hear what problems people are facing and what they need to move forward. One of the biggest things that came out of that listening tour was clarity that housing is the biggest issue in the Commonwealth today.
“It’s no secret that we’re facing a housing crisis. And it’s not just in the Boston area, either — it’s Commonwealth-wide. We have a huge job to do to make affordable housing abundant. And we have a huge job to do to protect people who are renting their home. That’s why today, I want to testify urgently in support of the tenant protection bills sponsored by Representatives Connolly, Elugardo and Arciero and Senator Gomez and by Representative Rogers and Senator Jehlen.
“What’s so great about these bills is that as much as housing is a Commonwealth-wide issue, the needs and context in each community are distinct. So we need to support municipalities in building solutions — and these bills will make it possible for municipalities to implement rent stabilization. This will help municipal officials bring everyone to the table — including renters, homeowners, and landlords alike — to consider tenant protections that make sense on the local level.
“Just to help fill in the picture on how serious this situation is: One in four Massachusetts renter households manage to keep a roof over their heads only by spending more than 50 percent of their income on rent. Most families in this situation cannot afford to own or rent in the neighborhoods that would give their children ideal opportunities to thrive.
“No one should be paying more than half their income in rent. No one should get automatically evicted if they can’t afford a lawyer, or if their landlord decides to sell the apartment building. And just because someone doesn’t own their home does not mean that they should not be able to expect stability.
“As all of us know, the pandemic has exacerbated all of this. Which is why these tenant protection bills are a critical tool to get in place to support families right now. This is just one piece of the puzzle in the push to make sure people across Massachusetts have the housing they need. For those who rent, it is often an unstable situation: it’s hard to know year-to-year whether you can stay in your same home, your same community. For those who hope to buy, the idea of coming up with a down-payment might seem insurmountable. For those who own, you wonder how you can pay your increasing electric bills, whether you’ll get wiped out by the next hurricane, and where you can move when your current house isn’t right for you anymore.
“I’m committed to supporting the incredible organizers and lawmakers testifying today on behalf of housing solutions for people across the Commonwealth. Because ultimately, we need to come together, build solutions, and start seeing ourselves as One Commonwealth. Our Commonwealth — where we work together, and find the path forward together. Thank you.”