Housing

Housing

This post is the fifth of a twelve-part series to publicize candidate answers to our Electoral Questionnaire. Candidates were required to answer all questions to be eligible for Boston DSA’s endorsement.

Boston DSA will vote on endorsements at the July 21st General Meeting.

This section asks candidates about tenant eviction protection, expropriating housing, accepting money from landlords and developers, reinstating rent control, accessible housing, AirBnB, community approval for developments, homelessness, and creating and preserving socialized public housing.

Will you propose and support legislation to create just cause eviction protections for tenants to eliminate no-fault evictions in Massachusetts?

Gretchen Van Ness

  • Yes.

Darryn Remillard

  • Yes.

Segun Idowu

  • I absolutely will. It was a shame when the Jim Brooks Stabilization Act died in committee at the State House. A further shame that this compromise bill did not include protections for tenants. I would re-introduce this legislation in its original language, which included such provisions.

Nika Elugardo

  • Yes. I would take this a step further by extending the same rights to people living in foreclosed homes they previously owned (as tenants of the bank that owns the home).

Ture Turnbull

  • Yes. I support the Jim Brooks Stabilization Act, and would fight hard to have it passed.

Darrin Howell

  • Yes. And I’ve participated in many actions and lobby days with CityLife/VidaUrbana, MAAPL and other allies to forward these policies.

Will you support any measures to expropriate empty luxury apartments for the purpose of housing Boston’s homeless and housing-insecure populations?

Gretchen Van Ness

  • What does “expropriate” mean? I support heavily taxing luxury apartments in order to fund expanded housing options for the homeless and housing-insecure.

Darryn Remillard

  • Yes.

Segun Idowu

  • I would need to learn more about the particulars of this idea. At the moment, I am for building more housing that is affordable.

Nika Elugardo

  • Yes, in some cases. Another approach is to regulate luxury housing so that taxes are very high for empty apartments. In cases where big developers have constructed luxury units that cannot be rented out, they have actively made housing more unaffordable for the general population by increasing property values without increasing the housing supply in the market that real people can participate in. The state doesn’t spend nearly enough on housing for homeless and housing-insecure populations, and that should be funded through direct taxes on developers who profit off our cities. Municipalities have eminent domain authority that could be considered in extreme cases, but even just the threat of that should provide leverage to get funding for homelessness and housing insecurity. There are models that disincentivize empty homes (such as a recently passed Vacancy Tax in Vancouver), which I would be open to exploring further.

Ture Turnbull

  • Yes

Darrin Howell

  • We have a housing shortage in Boston. We have a gentrification and affordability problem. We have people living on the streets and in temporary housing throughout the city.. We have vacant apartments and homes. Seems to me this is an idea worth exploring.

Will you accept any money from capitalists who profit from exploitation of the human need for housing, including but not limited to corporate landlords, real estate developers, property managers, banks, and landlords’ and developers’ attorneys?

Gretchen Van Ness

  • Some of my constituents own two- or three-family homes and are landlords. Some of my supporters are lawyers. I do not accept donations from anyone who profits from exploiting others.

Darryn Remillard

  • No.

Segun Idowu

  • I do not and will not accept financial support from those who exploit others.

Nika Elugardo

  • No. I am firm in my rejection of money from for-profit real estate developers and related industries. This should be the standard among all politicians. I don’t believe the politicians can separate the influence from the contributions.

Ture Turnbull

  • No

Darrin Howell

  • I’m not interested in the support of anyone who preys on my community.

Will you propose and support legislation overturning the 1994 ban on rent control in Massachusetts, and then support legislation to reinstate rent control?

Gretchen Van Ness

  • Yes.

Darryn Remillard

  • Yes.

Segun Idowu

  • I am for revisiting the discussion surrounding rent control and would work with DSA, housing advocacy groups like City Life, and others, to develop solutions that achieve the goals of rent control.

Nika Elugardo

  • Yes, I publicly support overturning the ban on rent control, which would allow municipalities to pass rent-control ordinances. I believe those ordinances are best crafted at the local level by city government, tailored to the conditions of the city.

Ture Turnbull

  • Yes

Darrin Howell

  • Yes and yes. Our housing costs are through the roof in the Boston area, and getting worse every year. The “free market” has failed here.

What measures will you support to create dedicated funding streams for the creation and preservation of socialized public housing?

Gretchen Van Ness

  • I am excited about the possibilities created by the new Community Preservation Act in Boston, and I support a progressive income tax and increasing taxes and transfer fees on luxury developments and condominiums in order to adequately fund both the creation and maintenance of public housing.

Darryn Remillard

  • We should enact a state-level, annual, vacant/luxury property tax similar to what was created in Vancouver in order to fund affordable, transit-oriented, deed-restricted, non-market based housing.

Segun Idowu

  • I support the use of affordable housing set-asides and financial mitigation measures in relation to residential and commercial real estate developments. I also support increased federal, state, and local funding for the creation and maintenance of more affordable housing.

Nika Elugardo

  • We have to find revenue to support construction of public housing. First and foremost, funding should come from the federal government. But until there’s a new administration that is unlikely. I support efforts of the state to raise revenue in the meantime, and we could learn a lot from the experience of Vienna (Austria), where the government has built and funded social housing, which then serves as an asset for the state rather than making private companies wealthy. The House passed a $1.8 billion dollar bond in 2018 to fund affordable housing; we could do the same for public housing. I also support other instruments such as a tax on real estate transfers, especially on corporations, to be dedicated to public housing and other housing programs.

Ture Turnbull

  • Public housing has been underfunded and dismantled, I will work with both the Housing and Municipalities and Regional Government Committees to pass new legislation and to include funding in the State’s budget. Looking to new funding streams will also have to be modernized to ensure that resources are provided for the long-term.

Darrin Howell

  • Housing is a foundational social determinant of health. Without safe, clean affordable housing, individuals have no hope of obtaining health, let alone happiness. So in many ways, this is the first issue we need to tackle when considering public investments. I want to see state and local resources focused specifically on expanding the number of affordable units in our communities, and I’d like to see laws that bar that housing from being redeveloped for a considerable amount of time.

Will you propose and support legislation to guarantee free legal representation by an attorney to every tenant facing eviction like the measure just passed in San Francisco, including measures to ensure that that representation is competent and adequately resourced?

Gretchen Van Ness

  • Yes. I have seen the good work that legal services does and wholeheartedly support increased legal services funding.

Darryn Remillard

  • Yes.

Segun Idowu

  • Yes. I believe that housing is a basic human right and, for those tenants who cannot afford an attorney to represent them in eviction proceedings, one should appointed for them, at public expense.

Nika Elugardo

  • Yes, we absolutely should do this. Tenants facing eviction are in an extremely vulnerable position already, and those without legal representation have essentially no protections.

Ture Turnbull

  • Yes

Darrin Howell

  • Yes, and I’ve helped to connect individuals to local non-profits who provide these services over the years.

What are your plans, beyond those described in the Disability Housing Task Force Report of Mayor Walsh’s housing plan, to meet the especially acute need for accessible housing?

Gretchen Van Ness

  • We need to put as much power and as many resources as possible in the hands of individual persons with disabilities so that each individual can adapt or construct housing that fits their needs, in communities and neighborhoods where they wish to live.

Darryn Remillard

  • This is a Boston-centric question and I’m running to represent Woburn and Reading.

Segun Idowu

  • I plan to be a vocal advocate for those in need of accessible housing – and to work with individuals and organizations advocating on behalf of measures that will ensure accessibility. In particular, I will support changes to our building codes and zoning laws that both ensure accessibility and impose real consequences (financial and otherwise) for failure to comply with same.

Nika Elugardo

  • Accessible housing, using principles of universal design, needs to be built into a regional housing plan. As the State Representative of the 15th, I will represent parts of Boston and Brookline; with constituents in two cities, I will be well positioned to advocate for a regional approach that invests significant resources (i.e. money) into housing that is free or affordable and accessible to homeless, low-income, and moderate-income people. I will advocate for a regional and rigorous process that understands (and not undercounts) the current needs, involves those most impacted by the problem, and takes action.

Ture Turnbull

  • My plans are to introduce and support smart zoning reform, giving the State more power over cities like Boston that have too much say in what new developments are built. Buy day-lighting the zoning process, communities will have more say in what and where structures are being built. This will include higher percentages of accessible units being built.

Darrin Howell

  • The Task Force report is a start, but we need to go further. If government can’t ensure the essential needs of our most at-risk families are met, then what are we doing? I don’t claim to be a policy expert on accessible housing, however, so I’m open to any and all suggestions here!

How will you ensure that a genuine democratic process occurs before the BPDA can propose a development plan (like JP/Rox, Plan Dudley, etc.), and that the local community will have final approval over the plan?

Gretchen Van Ness

  • By increasing the power of local communities and neighborhoods and decreasing the power of the Zoning Board of Appeals and the BPDA. I will partner with the Boston City Council to enact all of the innovative proposals they are considering to stabilize housing and increase affordable housing in Boston.

Darryn Remillard

  • This is a Boston-centric question and I’m running to represent Woburn and Reading.

Segun Idowu

  • I support the idea of designated neighborhood associations having the ability to stop development proposals that are contrary to the shared values of the community. I am also for expanding the zone of inclusion that BPDA currently follows (150-300 ft) to include more residents in the process. In my work with the Boston NAACP, I worked closely with Reclaim Roxbury on matters like Parcel-3 and Plan Dudley. I am very familiar with the avenues the city has taken to shut out residents in the process, and would work closely with groups like Reclaim Roxbury and POHWER (a Hyde Park neighborhood group) to create a more democratic process.

Nika Elugardo

  • To start, I would support a community-led planning process that is accessible, inclusive, and transparent. That process would be used to develop a set of community standards, including the definition of affordability, community benefits, and good jobs that would be mandatory in RFPs. Concrete actions could include using state-level tools (e.g., funding, zoning, legislation) to set more meaningful and stronger requirements for citywide development processes. Additionally, I would explore supporting a state-funded match to Boston’s new Acquisition Opportunity Program funding to prevent displacement of residents. I know there is much work to be done in this area—and much damage to repair. I would be an ally to and collaborator with housing justice groups to weigh in at the city/neighborhood level when it is necessary.

Ture Turnbull

  • The JP/Rox plan has been rather disappointing to me. The planning of our cities needs to have more buy-in and it is the role of good government to foster that. That could look like: more online tools for residents to voice their opinion; meetings that are kid friendly, with smart times and locations; and communicated in language and terminology that is accessible and understandable to all residents.

Darrin Howell

  • This is largely the domain of local elected officials and appointees. But I will work with Councilor Janey (who has endorsed my candidacy) and other area leaders to ensure our community is as engaged as possible in this process. No decisions about us should be made without us!

Will you propose and support legislation to restrict, tax, or otherwise regulate short-term rentals such as AirBnB?

Gretchen Van Ness

  • Yes.

Darryn Remillard

  • Yes.

Segun Idowu

  • Yes. I would work with colleagues on the City Council like Michell Wu and Lydia Edwards to achieve such a goal.

Nika Elugardo

  • Yes, I strongly support efforts to regulate and tax AirBnB. Hotels are subject to hospitality taxes, and AirBnB should be held to at least that standard in the case of private citizens renting out one or two rooms. Investor or corporate AirBnB is a different story and fundamentally takes housing units off the market, exacerbating our housing crisis. Corporate investors can buy out whole floors of units and rent them out as corporate AirBnB. That means that not only does the community suffer gentrification from these new luxury unit constructions but that the community also can’t have access to the housing units. I support taxing all AirBnB and short-term rental units at the hospitality tax rate (6%), with higher tax rates for corporate and investors. I support limiting the short-term rentals to 120 days a year to ensure that any short-term rentals aren’t taking units out of the housing supply.

Ture Turnbull

  • Yes

Darrin Howell

  • Yes. We’re already being priced out of our homes in Roxbury and Dorchester. The last thing we need is another wave of out-of-town buyers coming in and buying up property to rent to tourists.

Will you work to secure funding for a housing-first approach to homelessness, like the pilot City Rent Subsidy Program in Boston?

Gretchen Van Ness

  • Yes. We know this works. Let’s do it!

Darryn Remillard

  • Yes.

Segun Idowu

  • Yes.

Nika Elugardo

  • Yes.

Ture Turnbull

  • Yes

Darrin Howell

  • Yes. Again, secure housing is the foundation of health. No one can get back on their feet when they’re worried about where they might sleep at night.

Would you commit to not supporting tax breaks for commercial or residential real estate developers?

Gretchen Van Ness

  • Yes.

Darryn Remillard

  • Yes.

Segun Idowu

  • If such tax breaks do not provide a corresponding public benefit, I will not support them.

Nika Elugardo

  • Yes, I would be against any commercial or residential real estate tax breaks for for-profit real estate developers.

Ture Turnbull

  • Yes

Darrin Howell

  • While I’ve heard some arguments that might apply to blighted areas in my area of Dorchester and Roxbury, I overall don’t believe in offering taxpayer funds or subsidies to for-profit entities. Corporate welfare needs to stop.

Do you support guaranteed, free public housing? Will you expand public housing and defend it from “mixed-income” privatization schemes?

Gretchen Van Ness

  • Yes.

Darryn Remillard

  • Yes.

Segun Idowu

  • As mentioned earlier, I believe that housing is a basic human right. I will support this belief in every way and I will defend same against any and all incursions.

Nika Elugardo

  • Yes. Housing is a human right. We must de-commodify housing. The market is clearly failing to solve the housing crisis and is only making it worse. I oppose privatization of public housing in all forms.

Ture Turnbull

  • Yes to all of the above.

Darrin Howell

  • Yes and yes. I’ve lived in the projects, and despite the challenges we may have there, having a roof over your family’s head is vital.

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