Community Responsibility for Mortgage Companies
At the beginning of the subprime crisis in 2000, MAHA filed legislation to create a Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) for mortgage companies. Seven years later, that bill became law, making Massachusetts the first state in the nation to extend CRA to cover independent mortgage companies. The new law dramatically increased the percentage of mortgage lending that is reviewed by state regulators to ensure that it meets the needs of low and moderate income homebuyers and homeowners. Now, many federal lawmakers would like to follow the lead of Massachusetts and create a federal CRA for mortgage lenders of all types.
Massachusetts' Most Affordable Mortgages
Twenty years ago, a determined group of women fought hard to reverse a decades-long pattern of disinvestment in low and moderate income homebuyers and communities. These MAHA members successfully negotiated for the SoftSecond loan program, an innovative, affordable mortgage program for low- and moderate-income homebuyers that has changed the lending landscape in Massachusetts.
Today, MAHA members have agreements with Bank of America, Citizens, Sovereign, and Eastern for lending under the program. Over 17,000 homebuyers have already bought their first homes. And SoftSecond continues to offer stability to families and communities, with affordable payments and a foreclosure rate well below the rate for all mortgages in Massachusetts.
Accountability for Property Insurance Companies
In 1996, MAHA was a major force behind the passage of the toughest property insurance disclosure law in the country. In response to research showing that many insurance companies were refusing to offer policies to homeowners in urban neighborhoods, MAHA organized support for the Insurance Anti-Redlining Act which now requires the top 25 property insurers to report, by zip code, where they do business in Massachusetts.
Community Investment Funds From Insurance Companies
From 1996-98, MAHA and the Massachusetts Association of CDC's led a campaign that resulted in the passage of An Act Insuring Community Investment and the Equitable Taxation of Insurance Companies in Massachusetts For a copy of the law go to: The Massachusetts Legislature website. The law set up two $100 million community investment funds; one called The Life Initiative and the other, The Property and Casualty Initiative. Over $312 million has been invested by member insurance companies since 1999, benefiting affordable housing and other economic development projects throughout Massachusetts.
In 1991 MAHA teamed up with the Bowdoin St. Health Center in Dorchester to lead a campaign for lead-safe housing in Boston. At that time, thousands of children were being diagnosed with elevated lead levels each year. But there were no resources available to low and moderate income homeowners and parents to help them make their homes safe. In many cases where children were poisoned, the homeowner was under a criminal court order to delead, but no bank would provide a loan. MAHA and the health center organized homeowners and tenants together to encourage the city of Boston to apply for federal funds in 1993 to establish the city's first-ever grant/loan program to make homes lead-safe.
Today, LeadSafe Boston and MassHousing's Get the Lead Out program stand as models for others around the country. MAHA is a founding member of the Lead Action Collaborative. MAHA organizer Cortina Vann is the Co-Chair of the Boston Healthy Homes and Schools Collaborative.
In 1999 MAHA members campaigned for an inclusionary development policy in Boston that would ensure that all new housing developments would include some units for low and moderate income people. In February, 2000 MAHA members stood with Mayor Thomas M. Menino as he announced the city of Boston's first formal policy on inclusionary development. The policy now calls for developers of market rate housing to set aside 15% of the units as affordable. Alternatively, developers may choose to contribute to a fund to build the affordable units off-site. In that case, they would pay the city an amount equal to 15% of the market rate units times $200,000. As of 2009, the city had received commitments for 940 affordable units and over $13 million in off-site contributions.
MAHA's campaign in 2001 resulted in the first increase in the city's linkage fee in fifteen years. The fee went from $5 per square foot to $7.18 per square foot for housing. It also requires developers of non-downtown projects to pay the fee over seven years instead of twelve as in past years. Linkage is the fee paid by developers of hotel and office space to the city's Neighborhood Housing Trust. The city has collected and spent approximately $72 million in linkage fees since its inception.
Bank Services In Every Neighborhood
MAHA was a leader in a community campaign in 1989-90 that resulted in Boston banks opening nine new branches and more than 40 ATMs in Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan, Jamaica Plain, and the South End. Almost all of the branches are still open today.
High Rock Homes
MAHA joined with our partner, Needham Opportunities Inc., to build support for an innovative affordable housing development of 40 units in the town of Needham. Completed in 2008, High Rock Homes was built on land owned by the Needham Housing Authority. Twenty aging rental units were torn down and replaced with twenty new affordable rentals, and twenty affordable homes for first time homebuyers. The project has improved the rental housing stock, and added 20 new units for low and moderate income homeowners to the town's inventory.
MAHAMassachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance
1803 Dorchester Avenue
Dorchester, MA 02124
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
By phone: 617-822-9100
By fax: 617-265-7503