Tenants' Union - Sale of Affordable Housing Scattered Sites
In 2017, the Lowell Housing Authority (LHA) developed plans to file paperwork by early 2018 that would allow them to sell 87 - 105 of the affordable housing units they manage - with the potential to relocate approximately 300 residents presently living in those units. Our door-to-door outreach to affected residents brought nearly 75 people to a meeting in June 2017 to learn more about the sales and their options as tenants.
At the meeting - organized by Northeast Legal Aid, Northeast Justice Center, and Lowell Alliance - residents chose to form an association to solidify and advocate for their positions. A legal team comprised of Northeast Legal Aid and Northeast Justice Center has advised the LHA to include fair housing law in their application, and is working with Lowell Alliance to inform tenants of their rights and options.
Our advocacy throughout this process has resulted in some important changes on behalf of residents:
- The Tenants' Union, formed after the initial meeting around this issue, is presently working on other housing issues in addition to the sale - unresponsive property managers, issues with their units that are not promptly or properly addressed, and difficulties communicating with neighbors about shared property.
- At the request of the Tenants' Union, and in compliance with state guidelines, LHA surveyed residents on their preferences about the sale and relocation process.
- By working directly with LHA, Lowell Alliance helped to negotiate: A reduction in the total number of units sold; an increase in the percentage of housing offered for sale to nonprofits, from 30-50% to 100%; and a multi-lingual public information session for affected residents on how vouchers work.
We will continue to work with residents and LHA on specific cases, as well as well as supporting the unified voice of those affected.
To learn more, attend a meeting, and/or get involved, email Mary Tauras or call 978-454-5405 ext. 132.
Rights of residents living in affordable housing
More information and resources are available on our website under Resources - Affordable Housing.
A recent article in the Lowell Sun highlights residents' concerns about the scattered sites sales and potential displacement of their families.
Key to the residents interviewed is the "ecosystem" they enjoy in downtown Lowell, including the ability to walk to the high school and nearby stores, access to needed services, and the close proximity of neighbors who can support each other.
The tenants' union has helped provide these residents with a more unified voice during the process, including the request that LHA survey residents to determine their preference around the sale (e.g., who prefers to stay, who would like to move.)
A plan that factors in the diverse needs and experiences of residents will create a smoother transition, and build stronger community relationships in the city.