Since 1935 the Boston Housing Authority (BHA) has been responsible for planning, building, and managing housing for low-income families and the elderly in Boston, Massachusetts, with financial assistance from state and federal agencies. Following a lawsuit brought in the Housing Court of the City of Boston, a master was appointed in 1975, a consent decree was issued in 1977, and a receiver was appointed by the Superior Court for Suffolk County in 1980 to administer BHA. Administrative subject files of the receiver were created and maintained by the receiver in carrying out that responsibility.
Files contain correspondence, memorandums, meeting minutes, reports, and legal records created by the receiver and staff as well as relevant pre-1980 files taken from the BHA central file. While files relate to many aspects of managing the BHA, they mainly concern affirmative action for employees and fair housing for tenants--two areas designated for improvement during the period of receivership. Included are files of BHA's civil rights department holding responsibility in these areas and a chronological file maintained by the legal department with correspondence concerning agreements, contracts, and other legal issues. Pre-1980 records relate mainly to racial discrimination and desegregation and contain minutes of meetings held between BHA and tenant organizations.
The Boston Housing Authority (BHA) was established by order of the Boston City Council on October 1, 1935, pursuant to St. 1935, c. 449, s. 5 which empowered cities and towns of Massachusetts to establish housing authorities. Such a body is responsible for providing decent, safe and sanitary housing for families unable to afford housing without public subsidies and for clearing substandard, decadent or blighted open areas under the provisions of MGLA c. 121B. To carry out these responsibilities BHA develops and manages housing projects and leases housing when necessary. It also performed the functions of an urban redevelopment authority until such a body was established separately pursuant to St. 1957, c. 150. The management and governance of the BHA has deviated from that of other housing authorities since 1975, when BHA was sued in Boston City Housing Court by a group of BHA tenants, represented by Greater Boston Legal Serives, over poor conditions in housing projects under the authority's control. As a reult of the ruling in favor of the tenants, a court-appointed master prepared a report listing recommendations that provided the basis for a consent decree signed in 1977 by BHA, Greater Boston Legal Services and the Boston Public Housing Tenants Policy Council. The decree detailed a series of improvements that BHA was to make over the course of three years. The master, responsible for monitoring BHA's compliance with the consent decree, gave approval for all major decisions made by the BHA board and administrator. In 1979, the judge ruled that BHA had failed saisfactorily to fulfill the terms of the consent decree and BHA was placed in receivership, with its board of commissioners and administrator replaced by a court-appointed receiver. Since 1990, when the receivership ended, BHA has been directed by an administrator whose activities are reviewed by a nine member monitoring committee appointed by the mayor of Boston.
Source: Massachusetts State Archives catalog record
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The Boston Housing Authority records were transferred to the City Archives from the Massachusetts State Archives on January 26, 2010.