“TOPA would allow communities to slow displacement and gentrification by removing some homes from the for-profit, speculative, escalating market, and making them permanently affordable.”
Speculators are driving up prices, blocking new home-buyers, and promoting destabilization of neighborhoods, displacement of long-time residents, and gentrification.
Is this inevitable?
Those issues were the topic of my last newsletter.
One solution is a bill known as TOPA, Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act, which I’m sponsoring with Reps. Jay Livingstone and Rob Consalvo.
TOPA would allow communities to adopt local ordinances giving tenants of multi-family housing the right to purchase their homes at market price. Tenants could become homeowners by matching the highest offer of a third party buyer. Or they could assign their right to the municipality or a non-profit, which could purchase the housing and keep or make it affordable.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The bill doesn’t apply to a seller who owns fewer than 7 units in the municipality. We sometimes hear that this bill will be a burden to homeowners who can’t afford any delay in the sale of their property. This bill does not touch them at all.
It also does not apply to sales to immediate family members.
TOPA would allow communities to slow displacement and gentrification by removing some homes from the for-profit, speculative, escalating market, and making them permanently affordable.
TOPA would provide more affordable housing faster than any other investment. It is much cheaper and much quicker to buy and stabilize naturally occurring affordable units rather than to construct new ones.
Here’s just one example of where TOPA could have helped keep people housed:
At 6 Humphreys Place in Dorchester, the owner sent building-wide eviction notices to residents, because a buyer wanted to purchase the building empty. With support of City Life/Vida Urbana, the 20+ residents organized a tenants association and found non-profit buyers that could pay the market price. But the owner sold the building to the initial buyer, who continued to evict the residents. Had TOPA been in place, a non-profit buyer could have purchased the building at the third-party price, avoiding a long and very difficult battle by the residents to stay in their homes and guaranteeing permanently affordable housing in the community.
TOPA passed both houses at the end of the last session, too late for us to override Gov. Baker’s veto. I hope we will take it up again soon.
You can watch the hearing on this and other housing bills here. And here is an article from last year about TOPA by Councilor Lydia Edwards and leaders of community development corporations.
I’ll have more on housing soon: what people wrote about their experiences, the role of more housing development, and more.