TAP News

The TAP Policy Committee has done some amazing work over the past few years.  This work dovetails with cases which TAP took on for representation as well.  Some of the projects the team worked on are listed below.

 

Reasonable Accommodation Services:  In 2023-2024, Matthew Rock, J.D. ’24,  TAP’s Outreach and Policy Director, lead a new initiative with his team, providing services to clients in the community who need assistance with reasonable accommodation requests to housing agencies and landlords.

TAP’s reasonable accommodation “clinic” is now held twice a year – in the fall and in the spring.

“It doesn’t always happen where a reasonable accommodation can resolve the case. It depends, of course, on the circumstances,” says Rock. “But that was really my first exposure to the real power of this tool of the reasonable accommodation request, using disability law to help individuals stand up for their rights and maintain the safety and stability of their housing situation. And it was really that experience that provided the seed for what I would do for much of this year in TAP, which is leading the new initiative of the reasonable accommodation clinics in conjunction with an amazing team that created this new service that TAP is offering.” ~Matthew Rock

Read Olivia Klein’s full interview with Matthew Rock to learn more about the reasonable accommodation clinics by clicking on this link:

https://clinics.law.harvard.edu/blog/2023/04/expanding-legal-empowerment-for-local-tenants/

 

2021-2022

  • The TAP Policy Team finished an 18-month project on a housing justice campaign (Far from Home) in collaboration with Justice for Housing, a local housing advocacy non-profit.  The research focused on:  1) tenants who have been denied public housing or a Section 8 voucher due to their criminal record and 2) the negative impact of public housing authorities’ exclusionary CORI (criminal record) policies.  As part of their research, members of the TAP Policy team met with representatives from HUD’s headquarters and the Boston regional office to explore options for increasing access to subsidized housing for justice-involved individuals.
  • The research resulted in a report (http://bit.ly/farfromhomereport) which was “unveiled” at a sit-down dinner on April 21, 2022, at Harvard Law School.  The 150 invitees to the event included housing advocates, legislators, housing authority personnel, social service and medical providers, members of the academic community, and members of religious organizations.
  • Featured speakers at the event were Demetria McCain, Deputy Secretary of the Office of Fair Housing at HUD; Leslie Credle, Founder and Executive Director of Housing for Justice; Ruthzee Louijeune, Boston City Councilor and HLS alum; Nika Elugardo, Massachusetts State Representative; and David Gleich, Chief Officer for Leased Housing at Boston Housing Authority.

2020-2021

  • NAMI / TAP Collaboration: In February 2021, TAP students met with staff at the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI). There is a significant overlap in TAP’s client base with their programs, and the Policy team made a good referral connection to make overall for some of our clients.

 

  • Justice 4 Housing Campaign:  TAP assisted in writing a guide for tenants who have been denied public housing due to their criminal record and assisted with research on the negative impact of public housing authorities exclusionary CORI (criminal record) policies. The co-directors of the TAP Policy unit formed a six person “policy committee” which worked on the report. They held a “Focus Group” in March with over 40 community members to share their stories of being denied public housing due to their criminal record. Ultimately, the goal is to convince public housing authorities to change their policies and let more previously incarcerated folks have access to vouchers.

 

  • The TAP policy team  drafted a letter to express TAP’s strong opposition to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (“HUD”) 2019 proposed rule: “HUD’s Implementation of the Fair Housing Act’s Disparate Impact Standard.”  Disparate impact is a longstanding legal tool to fight discrimination and ensure equal housing opportunity under the Fair Housing Act. It requires banks, landlords, and other housing providers to choose policies that apply fairly to all people.  The disparate impact tool helps make housing accessible for families with children, women, LGBTQ people, people with disabilities, people of faith, and communities of color. It has played a critical role in advancing civil rights and equal opportunity and addressing the segregation that still persists in America. Disparate impact is used to address disparities in rental practices, lending, property insurance, zoning, and other areas.  You can read TAP’s comments in this document:  Tenant Advocacy Project Disparate Impact Comment October 2019

2019-2020

  • TAP submitted a comment to HUD’s Proposed Rule, “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing,” dated January 14, 2020.   The policy team wrote: “TAP strongly opposes the adoption of HUD’s Proposed Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) Rule. 1. In our view, the proposed changes to HUD’s 2015 AFFH Rule are inconsistent with HUD’s statutory obligation to affirmatively further fair housing. 2.  We support the continued implementation of the 2015 AFFH Rule because it creates a fair housing planning framework that emphasizes meaningful community participation, requires HUD review, and provides data and maps to better inform fair housing analysis.” You can read TAP’s full comments using this link to the document:  TAP’s Comment on HUD’s Proposed Rule , Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, dated January 14, 2020

 

  • Right to Counsel Public Hearing:  On July 16, 2019, the Massachusetts Joint Judiciary Committee held a standing-room-only public hearing on the eviction right to counsel bills. Shelley Barron, TAP’s  clinical instructor/supervising attorney at the time, was among those who testified in support of the bills.  Challengers questioned whether the state should be taking one side of the case. Supporters argued that the bill include provisions for low-income landlords to have a right to counsel. Barron said, “A right to counsel is not the only way to keep families housed, but it’s a pretty concrete way to reduce the number of families who become homeless.”