Testimony on H4138 the Affordable Homes Act

To the Honorable Chairs and Members of the Joint Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures, and State Assets.


H4138 The Affordable Homes Act promises many benefits in housing. However, it fails to deal with the essential rights of tenants, suitable housing for all the homeless, and support for people who depend on personal care attendants. This is an appeal for the missing bills and on behalf of the invisible people.

We urge our legislators to consider amending the Act as outlined below to remedy unmet needs that pose continuing threats to the rights and well-being of these many people.


Assuring the rights of tenants of public and subsidized housing: tenants whose rights are stolen by hostile environment harassment, mobbing, and bullying— today we have no remedy.


  • Lack of effective oversight over landlords of both public and subsidized housing.

  • Lack of training, standards, best practices, resources.


Remedy for oversight under the Office of the Attorney General

To include as an amendment the intent and language of H3868, “An Act to create the office of the tenant advocate in the Office of the Attorney General.”

This would provide oversight over both public and subsidized housing.

Remedy for oversight under the new Office of Fair Housing in EOHLC

[to]...help support enforcement of and compliance with all fair housing laws” including to investigate and enforce the terms of the rule on hostile environment harassment.

The need for action to provide oversight

Hostile environment harassment festers in public and subsidized housing for elderly and disabled people, and there is a lack of oversight and accountability that could assure their rights.

Research by the Commission on Bullying included a 617-person sample statewide survey on bullying, mobbing, and harassment in housing covering 92,000 units in 1,400 developments for elderly and disabled. Almost half of respondents reported bullying where they live. 30% of respondents reported indicators of hostile environment harassment. Only 16% of victims who sought help got a successful resolution.

H3868 is modeled on the Federal Fair Housing Law rule on hostile environment harassment that confirms that the housing provider is responsible for protecting the rights of tenants in specified classes to a peaceful home. H3868 will protect all tenants in public and subsidized housing for the elderly and disabled tenant.

H3868 will establish the office of the tenant advocate with the mandate to provide oversight and accountability and thus protect the right of tenants to the peaceful enjoyment of their homes.

Additional background information is available at Tenant Advocate: Resources.

Remedy for training, standards, resources:

To include the intent and language of S887.

“S.887 would develop regulations and provide resources to better equip tenants, managers and owners with tools for protection from bullying in public housing.”— Senator Joan B. Lovely

People living with multiple chemicals sensitivity and other disabilities are unable to find housing that accommodates their needs.


Stavros Center for Independent Living, the Boston Center for Independent Living (BCIL), the Disability Policy Consortium (DPC), CLW, and other advocates are asking that the Housing Bond Bill, H4138, The Affordable Homes Act, establish a Commission on Housing Accessibility, that would undertake a broad reexamination of housing accessibility across all ages and disabilities.

The Commission on Housing Accessibility would address the need for accommodation in housing for a broad range of persons with disabilities including MCS, mast cell activation disorder, asthma, COPD, as well as people with intellectual or developmental disabilities, neurodiversity, and mental health disabilities.




The proposed cut in funding for personal care attendants is a threat to the well-being of disabled persons and their ability to live independently in the community. 


Include sufficient support for funding personal care attendants.


See book by Dr. Lisa Iezzoni, Making Their Days Happen: Paid Personal Assistance Services Supporting People with Disability Living in Their Homes and Communities