AHMA announces communities of focus for their MBTA Communities Organization and Education Program.

With the welcoming of two new regional organizers leading to exciting growth in our organizing capacity, AHMA is pleased to announce initial communities of focus for our statewide MBTA Organizing & Education work. Our initial targeted communities allow AHMA the opportunity to strengthen and grow pro-housing leadership and local organizations, implement ambitious grassroots organizing techniques in a wide variety of communities and gain early wins on compliance within rapid transit communities. 

AHMA will be working in the following Rapid Transit Communities to be in compliance by December 2023: Brookline, Cambridge, Malden, Medford, Milton, and Somerville. 

AHMA will also be working in the following Commuter Rail & Adjacent Communities to be in compliance by 2024 and 2025 respectively: Arlington, Belmont, Franklin, Gloucester, Lawrence, Norwood, Reading, Waltham, Watertown,  and Worcester.  

As the only statewide pro-housing grassroots focused network, AHMA is embarking on this statewide campaign in local towns and cities with the following goals: 

  • Build public understanding of the benefits of multi-family housing
  • Build public understanding of the history of exclusionary zoning
  • Support municipal compliance with the MBTA Communities law
  • Expand grassroots pro-housing organizing infrastructure

Grassroots campaigns will be co-created with local advocates and pro-housing organizations in these communities of focus and range from full campaigns to lighter educational initiatives.

Organizing tactics and primary activities may include canvassing, network-building mobilizations, educational forums and celebrations. Local advocates will receive direct training and support from the AHMA organizing team in the areas of communication and public relations messaging in media, persuasion strategy, and effective advocacy. As these local initiatives progress, targeted communities may shift and new communities  added in pursuit of these goals. Additionally, AHMA will provide ongoing asynchronous resources and events for all pro housing advocates across the state. 

Members of the AHMA network who live in our sixteen initial communities of focus, and who are interested in getting involved are encouraged to email [email protected] 

Abundant Housing MA Welcomes New Regional Organizers

Boston, MA Abundant Housing Massachusetts, Inc. (AHMA), a not-for-profit
corporation standing for abundant housing for all in communities across Massachusetts,
announced Joyce Mandell and Julia Davidovitz as their new regional organizers guiding the
implementation of AHMA’s MBTA Communities organizing and education program.

The strategic hires come as AHMA was recently awarded $500,000 by the Barr Foundation to
support pro-housing advocates organizing to build more housing opportunities across eastern
and central Massachusetts in line with the “MBTA Communities” law passed in 2020.

The new law requires 175 Greater Boston communities proximate to the MBTA to designate at
least one zoning district in which multifamily housing is permitted “as of right” – reducing a key
barrier to solving the region’s housing crisis. By linking transit access to the development of
more affordable housing, the law helps fight climate change and empowers thousands of
residents the potential freedom to live without the cost burden of owning a car.

A recent poll found that, aside from the economy and jobs, Bay Staters identify steep housing
costs as the top issue the state must address.

As regional organizers, Julia and Joyce will provide education, technical assistance, and
leadership development for grassroots pro-housing advocates in Massachusetts cities and
towns included in the new law. Regions of focus may include but are not limited to the Metro
Boston urban core, Metrowest, North Shore, Central MA (Worcester area), and the South

“For the new law to be effective in creating more accessible housing for all, we need cities and
towns to move swiftly on implementation with the strong community support we believe exists,
but that is too often drowned out by a vocal minority,” said Jesse Kason-Benanav, AHMA
Executive Director. “Julia and Joyce’s years of experience in advocacy and campaigns will be
critical in creating a more affordable, climate-resilient region with housing choices for everyone.
We’re thrilled to have them on board.”

Julia recently managed Sam Montaño’s successful State Representative campaign in Boston.
Prior to that, she worked on a Covid-19 vaccine distribution campaign funded by the NYC
Department of Health and was a Field Organizer on the Bernie Sanders 2020 presidential
campaign. She grew up in Belmont, MA, received a bachelor’s degree from Brandeis University
in Waltham, MA, and currently lives in Boston.

Joyce brings over 30 years of experience in the field of community development and organizing
around local urban and neighborhood economic development and served as the economic
development director of Oak Hill Community Development Corporation in Worcester. Prior to
that, Joyce was an Urban Studies Adjunct Professor at Worcester State University and was the
writer of a blog called Jane Jacobs in the Woo. In 2008, Joyce received a Ph.D. in Sociology
from Boston College.

To learn more about Abundant Housing MA and the MBTA Communities organizing and
education program, visit www.abundanthousingma.org

About Abundant Housing Massachusetts, Inc.

Abundant Housing Massachusetts Inc. (AHMA) is a Massachusetts not-for-profit corporation
standing up for abundant housing for all in communities across Massachusetts. AHMA drives
policy at the state and local level by identifying pro-housing changemakers, building the power
of local organizers, and connecting a statewide network. www.abundanthousingma.org

AHMA Executive Director and Board Member are appointed to Governor-elect Healey’s Transition Committees

We are thrilled about the recent announcement of our Executive Director Jesse Kanson-Benanav being named a member of Governor-elect Maura Healey’s Affordable, Abundant Housing Transition Committee!

We know that Kanson-Benanav will propel the housing agenda forward with a frame of equity and inclusion for all resident of Massachusetts. With a committee filled with amazing housing advocated like Jesse, we are one step closer to making Massachusetts for Everyone!

Kanson-Benanav is a nationally known figure in the pro-housing movement, and brings robust experience and extensive knowledge of both housing and community organizing. Kanson-Benanav has over 15 years of experience in affordable housing, public policy, and community engagement. He is the founder of A Better Cambridge (ABC,) a community-based education and advocacy group committed to creating more affordable and sustainable housing. In 2016, he was recognized by the Boston Globe Magazine as a “game changer” for his work with ABC and was the recipient of the Metro Housing’s Champions of Housing Rising Star Award in 2019.

Congratulations to our Board Member Jarred Johnson for being named a member of Governor-elect Maura Healey’s How We Get Around Transition Committee! We look forward to seeing Johnson represent AHMA while pushing the transit forward!

Jarred approaches transit advocacy from a background in housing and organizing. Jarred has served as a community engagement coordinator and real estate project manager for a Boston-based affordable housing developer. Before that, Jarred helped to start the “Love Your Block” mini-grant project and helped write the City of Boston’s first Volunteer Plan as a part of the Civic Engagement Office. Jarred has a wealth of grassroots organizing experience working on various presidential, state, and Cherokee tribal races.Jarred joined TransitMatters as a volunteer member in the summer of 2015 and has served on the board since the fall of that year.