TOPA Provides Stability for Families and Allows Working People to Stay in their Neighborhoods

By Grant Young

Housing Cooperatives are a good thing for stable communities. Ward 4 has a number of successful housing cooperatives have sustained themselves over decades providing stable long term affordable housing for low- and moderate-income tenants. A recent study commissioned by the City of Boston found that cooperatives, particularly limited-equity cooperatives had provided stability and neighborhood activism that have stabilized and improved their neighborhoods with minimum gentrification and displacement. Several members of the Ward 4 Democratic Committee are members of Cooperatives and can testify to the stability they provide for families and allowing working people to continue living in our neighborhoods. 

The TOPA Coalition is proposing “The Tenant Option to Purchase Act” that provides a process for tenants to make an offer to purchase their building when it is sold by their current landlord or during a foreclosure. It sets a relatively short time frame for the process so as not unduly burden the landlord’s ability to sell the property. This has been implemented for Mobile Home Parks in Massachusetts since the 1980’s which resulted a number of cooperatives being formed. It’s also been implemented in Washington, DC with similar success.

TOPA is topic of several housing bills at the legislature and was passed in an economic development bill recently but was vetoed by Governor Baker. S.880 & H.1350, with Lead Sponsors Senators Patricia Jehlen and Adam Gomez & Reps. Jay Livingstone and Rob Consalvo, are the current bills that the TOPA Coalition is working on. One crucial aspect of the bill is that it allows the tenants to assign their rights to partner with an affordable housing provider like community land trusts or community development corporations that could provide the expertise and financial savvy to facilitate the formation of cooperatives or other mutual housing solutions.

You can ask your representative and senator to support the bill by going to their Everyaction page (takes a minute, seriously).

One of the leading groups in TOPA, the Massachusetts Association of Housing Cooperatives, is working to build a network of financial, legal, and operational property management resources that will provide a solid base to support a growing number of housing cooperatives and insure best practices and responsible, accountable democratic management. In early December the group is planning on having a forum on cooperative property management.  We’re inviting stakeholders, including Cooperative Members, Property Managers, and other Service providers to discuss the state of cooperative property management and options for improving the choices available to cooperatives. If you’re interested in attending drop a line to:

Image: Housing Justice for All

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