Abundant Housing MA launches organizing program to grow pro-housing movement and support MBTA Communities Law

The Barr Foundation has awarded AHMA $500,000 to support pro-housing advocates with education, organizing to build more housing opportunity in MBTA Communities across eastern and central Massachusetts

Boston, Massachusetts – Abundant Housing Massachusetts has been awarded a transformative grant from the Barr Foundation that will spur the launch of a new pro-housing effort in Massachusetts: the MBTA Communities organizing and education program. Through this program pro-housing advocates across eastern and central Massachusetts will be outfitted with the tools they need to educate their neighbors about how critical the MBTA communities law is to redressing legacies of racial injustice in land use through building a more affordable, climate resilient region with housing choices for everyone.

This program  will extend AHMA’s existing support of advocates to a portion of the 175 Greater Boston communities impacted by the “MBTA Communities” multifamily zoning requirement. This law was formally adopted by the state legislature as part of an economic development bill in January 2021, under  Section 3A of M.G.L. c. 40A. 

This law is a critical step to ensure that sustainable, multifamily residential development is spread across transit-accessible locations throughout the Greater Boston region and not just concentrated in urban core communities. This is necessary to help stem a regional and state housing crisis driven in large part by a severe under-building of homes over the past 3 decades. 

“We are so grateful to the Barr Foundation for their support as we educate and organize to ensure we get meaningful zoning reform in every MBTA community. The MBTA Communities law opens the door for accessible choices. This a much needed step towards building the homes we need across Massachusetts.”

AHMA Board President Molly Goodman

As of 2014, one third of Massachusetts could not build multifamily housing because of zoning regulations- resulting in a socioeconomic divide across the state. Through the MBTA Communities law and funding from the Barr Foundation, AHMA is uniquely positioned to implement programming for more equitable housing in Massachusetts. Successful implementation from AHMA will have a long-lasting impact on racist legacy programs like red-lining, which are perpetuated through modern day exclusionary zoning.

“AHMA’s MBTA Communities organizing and education program will propel Massachusetts forward by working towards implementing multi-family zoning in neighborhoods across our region. By expanding our staff and unique capacity, we will focus on what is most important; deep grassroots organizing and community engagement. We will not only lead statewide advocacy and collaboration, but lay the important groundwork of building the infrastructure necessary for housing production and getting us closer to inclusive, sustainable communities.”

AHMA Executive Director Jesse Kanson-Benanav

Funding from the Barr Foundation for the  launch of the MBTA Communities organizing and education program will allow AHMA to: 

  • Provide direct support to grassroots leaders in targeted communities by hiring two additional full-time organizers that will develop outreach and educational campaigns in support of the MBTA Communities law.  With support from the new full-time organizers we will inform and enlighten stakeholders and residents about the racial, economic, and sustainable benefits of adopting zoning for multi-family housing around transit.
  • Collaborate with existing and/or launch start-up pro-housing grassroots organizations looking to be in compliance with the MBTA Communities law by providing stipends to volunteer organizers along with educational campaign materials and digital organizing tools.
  • Amplify effective pro-housing messaging in support of the MBTA Communities Law, across selected communities, by conducting opinion polling research with residents and city/town officials in order to design and deliver compelling strategic marketing campaigns building public support. 

For more information about MBTA Communities organizing and education program, AHMA’s Executive Director Jesse Kanson-Benavav is available for interviews and phone calls. Please contact him at 617-286-6602 OR [email protected]

AHMA Welcomes Interns to help drive Communications, Policy & Advocacy Work

On behalf of Executive Director, Jesse Kanson-Benanav, AHMA is pleased to announce the hiring of two interns as we seek to maximize our impact in the pro-housing advocacy space! We are honored to announce that Cheryl Daniel and Mike Kriesberg have joined team AHMA as a Communications/Marketing intern and Policy/Research intern, respectively.

As a current graduate student in the Media Advocacy program at Northeastern University’s School of Journalism and Law, and communications intern for State Senator Lydia Edward’s, Cheryl Daniel brings to AHMA extensive expertise in the areas of storytelling, political advocacy and community engagement. Prior to joining the team, Cheryl has supported social change research at Northeastern’s college of arts, media and design and completed journalism internships for several newsrooms and universities. As a student at Northeastern, she notably and recently collaborated with The Emancipator to bring awareness about voting rights to the public by producing a series of TikTok videos.

“Joining the AHMA team is like reuniting with family. I am excited to help advance the pro-housing agenda. Housing is more than a physical infrastructure- it is a place of meaning that can shape one’s everyday life. We must continue to advocate for affordable and accessible housing.”

Cheryl Daniel

As the Communications/Marketing Intern, Cheryl will support AHMA in increasing our overall base of support and engagement, through effective communication strategies and educational tools, amongst members in working towards our vision of housing abundance.

Having grown up in MA, Mike Kriesberg understands the need for advocacy towards public policy matters in housing. He joins team AHMA as the policy, research and advocacy intern. Having recently completed an Americorps VISTA service year with the Neighborhood Impact Team at Enterprise Community Partners, Mike brings extensive experience in the affordable housing, community development and legislative affairs spaces. Prior to joining the team, Mike also interned with Metro Housing Boston, supporting section 8 program recipients while completing important research. In addition to his housing policy and community development experience, Mike also interned for the state of New York’s Assembly Chair of Housing, helping to manage constituent services, tracking legislation and representing the Chairman in public affairs. This fall he will begin a Masters in Public Administration program, with a specialization in public policy, at New York university’s Wagner School of Public Service. As the policy, research and advocacy intern, Mike will support AHMA’s ongoing development of our policy and advocacy priorities.

In partnership with our full team, his role will focus on conducting research to both inform legislative priorities and translate research findings into model legislation and the development of educational tools meant to facilitate members’ organizing efforts.

“Joining AHMA is an incredibly exciting opportunity for me because I will have the opportunity to work with individuals and organizations across the Commonwealth towards the shared goal of creating more housing. The need for housing with easy access to transit and jobs is critical and AHMA, along with its members, treats the issue with the urgency it deserves.”

Mike Kriesberg

AHMA is honored that both Cheryl and Mike have chosen to share their talents with us and look forward to accomplishing much together! We know they make us stronger and will only get us closer to our vision of housing abundance in MA.

AHMA Announces Leadership Transitions & New Board Members

On behalf of Executive Director, Jesse Kanson-Benanav, AHMA is pleased to announce the following leadership transitions on our Board of Directors:

-Upon completing her term as board president, Beyazmin Jimenez is now President Emerita.
-Molly Goodman has stepped into the role of Board President.
-Elijah Romulus, Senior Comprehensive Planner at Old Colony Planning Council, has joined as a new Board Member.
-Current Board Member, Andrea Aldana, has stepped into the role of Board Clerk.

Board President, Molly Goodman, extends her utmost gratitude to departing Board Member and President Emerita, Beyazmin Jimenez, for the monumental contributions she has made to the formation of AHMA. She writes…“This time four years ago we were a bunch of volunteers meeting at CIC every other week to hammer out the final YIMBYtown 2018 logistics. Two years ago we were sitting at Jesse’s dining room table with our attorney hammering out the logistics for our articles of incorporation for AHMA. Now we are a full-fledged organization primed to make change in Massachusetts and we wouldn’t be here without Beya’s leadership ….”.

On stepping into the Board President role, Molly says that helping to found Abundant Housing MA has been one of her proudest accomplishments to date. She writes “I’m thrilled to be named the Board President. Massachusetts has the best first-time homebuyer and first-generation homebuyer programs in the country, but what we don’t have is enough housing stock to provide those essential wealth building opportunities to all our residents and newcomers. I truly believe that Massachusetts is for everyone, and we have the tools that we need to lift everyone up.”

Board president, Molly Goodman, also welcomes Elijah Romulus, currently Senior Comprehensive Planner at Old Colony Planning Council, to the AHMA Board of Directors. As a leader in urban planning and environmental policy, Elijah understands the intersectional solutions needed, from production/zoning reform to sustainable development practices, needed to address the housing crisis.

On his passion for housing advocacy and move to join AHMA’s board he writes “Everyone has the right to an adequate standard of living and to the highest attainable standards of physical and mental well-being. This is why housing is such a critical issue. We should do our best to ensure there is affordable and accessible housing for those in need.” The AHMA board is excited to work with Elijah!

🚨 Action Alert 🚨 Send a letter or testify in support eliminating costly parking mandates for affordable housing in Boston

Calling All Boston Residents!

On December 15th the City of Boston Zoning Commission is hosting a hearing that would amend the Boston Zoning Code by removing the citywide, off-street parking requirements, for proposed residential development where at least 60% of the units are income-restricted.

This amendment has already been approved by the Boston City Council and the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA). Help us get this important amendment to the finish line by sending a letter and/or signing up to testify!

This zoning amendment would eliminate the use of parking minimums as a bad-faith tactic for stalling affordable housing, and more, by…

  • by ending a costly mandate to many affordable housing developers.
  • not prohibiting parking in areas of need
  • taking a small but important step towards a carbon-neutral Boston

Parking minimum reform is an important step towards expediting and supporting the process of building more affordable housing and every unit lost or gained impacts members of our community. The Zoning and Planning Hearing is this Wednesday, December 15th, at 9am.