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Central administrative files

Identifier: 9000.002

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. Central administrative files are those of the chief administrator and staff, who were responsible for overseeing the daily operations of BHA and carrying out policies and programs approved by the authority's board of commissioners until 1980, when the authority was placed in receivership.

Administrative files, arranged for the most part by BHA administrator or correspondent, were maintained in the authority's central file. Materials include internal and external correspondence and memorandums, reports, newsclippings, and proposals for funds, relating to all aspects of planning, developing, managing, and maintaining housing projects under the authority's control. Correspondents include city, state, and federal housing officials, other state and federal agencies, legislators, tenant organizations, law firms, and union representatives, as well as the court-appointed master charged with overseeing the authority's compliance with a consent decree from 1977 to 1980. Included are routine administrative files dealing with maintenance and repairs, personnel and staffing, purchasing, and financial management as well as those that relate to tenant applications and complaints, tenant relations, leased housing, racial discrimination, urban initiative programs, CETA program, youth programs, state and federal housing legislation, revitalization and modernization of housing projects, and energy conservation.


  • 1939-1981


Conditions Governing Access note

Restricted. Consult with Archivist.

Historical note

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


13.0 Cubic feet (13 record cartons)

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.

Central administrative files
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Repository Details

Part of the City of Boston Archives Repository

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