Councilor Martins Hopes Housing Task Force Can Be a Clearinghouse for Many Issue

Councilor Stephanie Martins is putting her eggs in the basket of the Affordable Housing Task Force, and said she hopes the mix of residents, professionals and elected officials can be a sounding board for some of the most critical housing issues facing the city.

“Most municipalities around us have a Housing Task Force and so do other states and Malden has one too,” said Martins this week. “In Everett, it’s time for us to move in a new direction in terms of housing. I’m excited because there are new ordinances coming from the Administration and the Council. I thought it would be good to create a platform for the community with a range of diverse voices to give us feedback on these proposals…It’s made up of a diverse group of people in terms of experience, race, and gender. We have landlords, tenants, non-profits, a representative for youth homelessness and members of the Council.”

The Housing Task Force was created in February when it passed the Council and was just getting off the ground when COVID-19 hit the city – causing the effort to be put on hold so that more pressing needs could be tended to such as helping at the food pantries.

Now, however, the Task Force is meeting again and the membership is getting solidified. Aside from Councilor Martins and Councilor Mike Marchese, the other non-elected members include:

•Laura Rosi – Housing Families (Housing and tenant advocate organization)

•Rafael Mares – TND (non-profit housing development)

•David LaRovere – Messinger Insurance (member of the business community)

•Kayla Mangan – Tenant/Everett resident

•Charles DiPerri, senior citizen from Everett Villa Co-Op

•Tony Sousa – City Planner

•Lucy Pineda – LUMA (non-profit leader)

•Rev. Myrlande Desrosiers – Everett Haitian Community Center (social services leader)

•Liliana Patino  – Eliot Family Resources (social services leader)

•Domenic Puleo – Everett Housing Auth. (EHA appointee)

•Jean Granick – Cambridge Health Alliance (health care appointee)

•Jonathan Regis – Youth Harbors (youth homelessness appointee)

•Keith Slattery – Asst. City Solicitor

A landlord appointment, which was Sal Sacro, is being reconsidered as he didn’t have enough time to devote to the Task Force, and a School Committee appointment is also still pending.

“It’s a platform I hope where we can discuss everything housing,” said Martins. “Even though it’s about affordable housing, it’s also about zoning and housing production. We already have a proposed Linkage Fee ordinance that will come before the Task Force in advance of going to the City Council.”

Right now, she said the first task they’ve identified is to come up with a landlord/tenant guide for residents – something that will explain rights on both sides and try to help lay a groundwork for knowing the laws on housing. It will also include an extensive list of housing resources and services too. They will begin that work on Sept. 29 in a workshop meeting with the Attorney General’s Office.

The guide will be printed and available around the City, she said, and would also be posted online.

In the end, she said they hope to make the Task Force into a regular Commission that meets frequently and helps refine housing policy and protocols so Everett can move into a new era on housing and affordability.

“The vision for the Task Force is that it can become a Commission,” she said.

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