In late January, the Burbank Apartments Tenants Association (BATA) had discussed federal housing subsidies with their landlords, William and Robert Kargman. However, an inconclusive talk with the Kargman brothers led Burbank tenants and their supporters to publicly voice their concerns outside their landlords' office a few weeks later.
According to Fenway News, the Kargmans want to be removed from the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Section 8 program. The program covers nearly 40 percent of the apartments in Burbank, and 173 of those units have maintained affordable prices for 40 years. The units also represent almost 10 percent of all affordable housing in Boston's Fenway neighborhood.
The Kargmans had assured that their tenants would stay protected under their plan to prepay the mortgage for the apartments, which would allow HUD to offer "enhanced vouchers" to qualified tenants who could then subsidize their rent.
However, the vouchers would only be provided to current residents and not future tenants. This means that the usual renters who earn low to moderate incomes, like teachers and human services workers, would no longer be able to afford to move to the development.
Those who could qualify for the new vouchers would still face new financial risks, such as losing their voucher if their income rises above the limits in the program. If a tenant's income falls due to job loss or reduced hours, he or she could still lose the voucher and might not even be able to re-qualify. William and Robert Kargman's decision to leave HUD's Section 8 program would apparently end affordable housing for Burbank Apartments.
"This is about the long-term affordability of the neighborhood and the city," said Fenway CDC board of directors' president Joanne McKenna. "We don't want a neighborhood that working people can't afford."
To learn more about affordable housing and tenant rights, visit the Related Resources links below.