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Correspondence files of the court-appointed master

Identifier: 9000.012

Scope and Contents

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. As the result of a suit brought against BHA in the Housing Court of the City of Boston, the court in 1975 appointed a master to oversee BHA's management. Correspondence files of the court-appointed master were created and maintained as a result of orders issued by the Superior Court of Suffolk County in July 25, 1979 that ultimately placed BHA in receivership. Files contain correspondence and memorandums, court and other legal records, newsclippings, reports, and some personnel records documenting administration of BHA in the aftermath of the court's decision and the transition to receivership. Correspondence with BHA administrators, the court, and law firms representing parties also contains copies of court orders, appeals of orders, stays of orders, and interim orders. Also included are files relating to the selection of a receiver and those providing background information on BHA units. Topics include personnel procedures and practices, contracts, and purchasing. Administrative files of the court-appointed master, 1975-1979 and: Consent decree files of the court-appointed master, 1976-1979 contain correspondence and other files of the master prior to 1979.


  • 1979-1980


Biographical / Historical

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


3.25 Cubic feet (3 record cartons and 1 document case)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Boston Housing Authority records were transferred to the City Archives from the Massachusetts State Archives on January 26, 2010.

Correspondence files of the court-appointed master
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the City of Boston Archives Repository

201 Rivermoor St.
West Roxbury MA 02132 United States
617-635-1194 (Fax)