The Nomads Need Accessible Housing

It is bitterly cold now as the nomads, women in their 70s and 80s, gather in their vans and cars in the department store parking lot on a bitterly cold night. The common thread in their stories is how they were forced out of their homes because their bodies could not tolerate smoking or other triggers of their asthma or multiple chemical sensitivity. Multiple chemical sensitivity is a condition in which the body’s immune and neurological systems cause symptoms similar to allergies, symptoms that can be disabling.

Testimony on H3868, to establish a tenant advocate to protect tenant rights

Testimony of Jerry Halberstadt and others in favor of H3868, “An Act to create the office of the tenant advocate in the Office of the Attorney General,” prepared for the Joint Committee on the Judiciary, December 5, 2023 

To the Honorable Chairs James B. Eldridge and Michael S. Day, Vice Chairs Lydia Edwards and Christine P. Barber and members of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary.


Tenant Advocate: Resources

This article provides additional testimony to support passage of H3868, “An Act to create the office of the tenant advocate in the Office of the Attorney General.” The provider of housing must assure peaceful enjoyment of all tenants and it is unlawful not to prevent harassment or hostile environment harassment. The Fair Housing Law protects tenants in protected classes from hostile environment harassment. The proposed law under H3868 would extend protection to all tenants. Hostile environment harassment harms individual victims and the residential community. There is no current effective oversight; the tenant advocate will fill that need.

BREAKING: Beacon Hill Wants Your Testimony on H3868 So They Can Protect Tenant Rights

The public is invited to participate in the Joint Committee on the Judiciary's hybrid hearing on December 5, 2023 at 1:00pm.  Please note that the Chair will limit testimony to one time, for a total of three minutes, per individual.

We Collaborate

The Office of the Attorney General has asserted that it is unlawful for a housing provider not to protect tenants from harassment. I wrote to seek a meeting with the Attorney General or the Policy & Government Affairs Division to discuss the issues around bullying, mobbing, and hostile environment harassment. I asked to include tenants and the legislative sponsors of H3868—a bill to create an office of the tenant advocate that would protect the rights of tenants when landlords fail to prevent hostile environment harassment.

Bullying & Democracy At Apple Village


Some tenants of Apple Village allege they are the targets of harassment, abuse, bullying, and deliberate actions to create stress. Members of each of the tenant associations accuse the other of bullying. Some blame the manager. The problems are pervasive. The situation may qualify as hostile environment harassment. Apple Village in Beverly has two HUD-subsidized apartment buildings for elderly and disabled.


Office of the Tenant Advocate

Why is this bill, H3868 An Act to create the office of the tenant advocate in the Office of the Attorney General, so important? This bill will assure tenants of their rights by providing accountability for landlords. Today, across the Commonwealth, a significant minority of landlords of subsidized and public housing fail in their responsibility to provide peaceful enjoyment and prevent hostile environment harassment, thus creating pain and suffering for tenants who can find no relief or remedy. The fundamental cause is the lack of accountability for errant landlords. Most landlords, operating under the same constraints, choose to provide a more hospitable environment. Eliminating hostile environment harassment is essential for building constructive collaboration among tenants and landlords. The bill has a strong foundation in law, research, and the urgent need is confirmed by the experience and testimony of tenants.