Guest Op-Ed: Forbes Building rent restrictions expire March 1

By Susan Strelec and Talya Guenzburger

       On March 1, 2022, rent restrictions for 76 households in The Forbes Building in Jamaica Plain will expire. Without intervention, 76 low-income senior and disabled households in Jamaica Plain could face dramatic rent increases and the possibility of eviction and displacement.

       For years, the Forbes Building Tenant Association (FBTA) has worked with the Mass Alliance of HUD Tenants and the State and City to protect Forbes tenants against this doomsday scenario. Most recently, the FBTA launched a campaign for a long-term voucher subsidy contract to preserve the Forbes Building as mixed-income affordable housing. We organized two rallies and brought together hundreds of tenants, community supporters, and elected officials to support our demands. In addition, we sent a community petition with over 1,200 signatures to demonstrate support for our demands.

       Our efforts have gained support from Mayor Michelle Wu and State Representative Nika Elugardo, the Boston City Council, and endorsements from several community groups, including JP Progressives, Ethos, the Jamaica Plain Pond Association, Ward 19, the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council, Mass Senior Action and City Life/Vida Urbana.

       The FBTA has achieved major victories via Jamaica Plains’ very supportive residents and organizations. But partial victories are not enough. We are still fighting for long-term affordability, to keep the Forbes as desperately needed housing for future senior and disabled tenants. The City of Boston has so few affordable housing resources and has been slow to build more. We cannot afford to lose existing affordable housing.

       The future of Jamaica Plain as a wonderful mix of ages, income levels and ethnicities, which has made it such a desirable place to live, depends on the continued availability of affordable housing to maintain this diversity.

Susan Strelec is resident of the Forbes Building and a member of the Forbes Building Tenant Association Steering Committee.Talya Guenzburger is a tenant organizer at the Mass Alliance of HUD Tenant and a Jamaica Plain resident

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