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April 14, 2023

Pressley Celebrates Affordable Housing in Roxbury, Highlights Importance of Housing for Formerly Incarcerated People

Pressley, HUD, Wu, Advocates Celebrate ‘Flat 9’ Affordable Housing Development in Roxbury

Pressley Also Joined Justice 4 Housing & NECAT to Highlight Importance of Housing & Re-Entry Programs to Formerly Incarcerated

Flat 9 Photos | Justice 4 Housing Photos

BOSTON – Yesterday, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) spent the day celebrating new affordable housing developments in Boston and highlighting the importance of providing housing, job training, and other critical resources to formerly incarcerated individuals.

Yesterday morning, Rep. Pressley joined U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Deputy Secretary Adrienne Todman, HUD Regional Administrator Juana Matias, Mayor Wu, the Boston Housing Authority, Preservation of Affordable Housing, andresidents, funders, and partners to celebrate the start of the final phase of Flat 9 at Whittier, a transformational effort to preserve and upgrade the old Whittier Street Apartments Public Housing community in lower Roxbury. Photos from the Flat 9 groundbreaking are available here.

“Safe, stable, and affordable housing is a fundamental human right, and critical projects like the Flat 9 at Whittier will go a long way towards affirming that right for communities in Boston and all across the Massachusetts 7th,” said Rep. Pressley following the Flat 9 groundbreaking. “I was proud to celebrate this important milestone for Flat 9, which will help us meet our housing goals and empower residents with a sense of belonging, while protecting their dignity and affirming their place in our community. I am grateful to our state and local partners, housing advocates, and residents who understood the assignment and have worked so closely to make today a reality.”

“The Flat 9 at Whittier project is an example of how federal, state and local government can work with private and non-profit partners to build and preserve affordable housing and, very importantly, invest in people and communities,” said Adrianne Todman, Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. “The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development provided the initial Choice Neighborhood grant funding that supports this locally-driven initiative, and I am pleased to be here to celebrate this thriving community and the people who will live here.”

“The Flat 9 at Whittier is a great example of what is possible when we use every possible resource and partner across sectors to make Boston a City for everyone. I’m grateful to all of our partners for their leadership and look forward to accelerating our efforts for affordability across our neighborhoods,” said Boston Mayor Michelle Wu.

“The Whittier Choice initiative has transformed an entire neighborhood and MassHousing is excited to celebrate the completion of Flat 9 at Whittier Phase 2 and breaking ground for the third and final phase of this major redevelopment project for the residents of Roxbury,” said MassHousing Executive Director Chrystal Kornegay.

“The Whittier Choice Neighborhood Program has shown us what public housing redevelopment should look like,” said BHA Administrator, Kate Bennett. “This incredible partnership has secured Whittier’s legacy, and built a thriving future for hundreds of low-income families here in Roxbury. We are excited to see this final phase of construction move forward.”

“Today’s ribbon cutting and groundbreaking are yet more milestones in the development of this very special community in the heart of Lower Roxbury,” said Aaron Gornstein, President and CEO of POAH. “Years of resident- centered planning and involvement and the support of many partners has created this award-winning, sustainable community.”

In the afternoon, Congresswoman Pressley joined Leslie Credle of Justice 4 Housing (J4H), Josephine Cuzzi of New England Culinary Arts Training (NECAT), and housing advocates to tour their cutting-edge coworking space and discuss the organizations’ transformative work in support of Formerly Incarcerated People. During her visit to their space, the Congresswoman spoke with J4H and NECAT leaders about the innovative partnership between J4H and NECAT, which provides a unique opportunity for people to access housing and career-training opportunities in the same office. Photos from the J4H/NECAT event are available here.

“It takes a village to support the holistic healing of our communities, which includes providing access to affordable and safe housing and workforce opportunities for our neighbors returning from behind the wall,” said Rep. Pressley following her event with J4H and NECAT. “J4H and NECAT’s unwavering efforts to eliminate discriminatory housing policies and provide transformative career trainings are truly life-changing. I look forward to continuing our partnership to further support our most vulnerable communities across the Commonwealth.”

“We are excited to welcome Rep. Pressley to our new space to show her how we are changing lives,” said Leslie Credle, who founded J4H because of her own experiences as a FIP. “Justice 4 Housing is uniquely suited to serving Justice-Involved Individuals because many of our staff members, including myself, have lived through the same experiences that our clients are right now. We know that housing is the key to a successful reentry, and we’re so lucky that our clients can access career-training right here through our neighbors at NECAT.”

“NECAT has always welcomed adults who have faced personal challenges, like incarceration,” said NECAT Executive Director Josephine Cuzzi. “We believe no one should be penalized for their past and we’re committed to leveling the playing field through our culinary job training program and helping graduates secure household sustaining jobs. Employment and stable housing are critical for successful re-entry and our partnership with J4H makes it easy for our students to work with both organizations.” 

“Before I got connected with Justice 4 Housing, I had been looking for housing for almost two years after my most recent release from prison, but my criminal record was a constant barrier,” said Jose Lorenzo, a former J4H client who now works as a Case Manager and Peer Leader at the nonprofit. “I had been in and out of prison for my young adult years and my inability to access stable housing definitely contributed to that. Now, I’m housed and was released from probation early. I’m in pursuit of custody of my oldest son. Justice 4 Housing changed my life.”

“NECAT’s program helped me get ready to reintegrate into society and become a part of the community,” said Quandré, a graduate of NECAT’s re-entry program. “I always had an interest in the restaurant industry and NECAT gave me the professional training and support to reach the next level in my culinary career. Today I’m a chef and owner/manager of The Happy Hatter Diner in Medway, putting to use my culinary training and business skills.”

As a member of the House Financial Services Committee, Rep. Pressley has consistently advocated for policies that affirm housing as a human right and center the dignity and humanity of all people, including formerly incarcerated individuals.

  • In February 2022, Rep. Pressley, along with Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) and Congresswoman Cori Bush (MO-01), in reintroducing the Housing Emergencies Lifeline Program (HELP) Act, critical legislation to provide much-needed assistance to those facing eviction amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • In December 2021, Rep. Pressley  unveiled the Fair and Independent Experts in Clemency (FIX Clemency) Act, historic legislation to transform our nation’s clemency system and address the mass incarceration crisis. This legislation is informed by the Congresswoman’s People Justice Guarantee (PJG), a comprehensive, decarceration-focused resolution that outlines a framework for a fair, equitable and just legal system. 
  • In September 2021, Rep. Pressley joined Rep. Bush and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in introducing the Keeping Renters Safe Act of 2021 to enact an urgently needed nationwide eviction moratorium. 
  • Over the summer, with the previous eviction moratorium set to expire, Rep. Pressley stood in solidarity with Congresswoman Cori Bush on the steps of the US Capitol to urge the Administration to act unilaterally to extend this protection—efforts that resulted in a new CDC eviction moratorium
  • On July 2021, ahead of the expiration of the previous CDC eviction moratorium, Reps. Pressley, Bush, Gomez and their progressive colleagues sent a letter renewing their calls for President Biden and CDC Director Rochelle Walensky to extend the federal eviction moratorium and prevent the historic and deadly wave of evictions that would occur if the government failed to do so. 
  • On July 30, Rep. Pressley joined House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) in introducing the Protecting Renters from Evictions Act of 2021, legislation to extend the eviction moratorium through the end of the year. 
  • In June, Rep. Pressley, along with Reps. Gomez and Bush, led over 40 of their colleagues on a letter urging President Biden and CDC Director Walensky to extend and strengthen the moratorium for the duration of the public health crisis. 
  • On March 18, 2020, Reps. Pressley, Katie Porter (D-CA) and Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) wrote to HUD calling for a moratorium on evicting renters during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • On March 19, 2020, Rep. Pressley, along with progressive lawmakers and organizations, introduced the Housing is a Human Right Act to authorize more than $200 billion in federal spending over 10 years for crucial housing infrastructure and reduce homelessness.
  • On March 23, 2020, Reps. Pressley and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) introduced the Public Health Emergency Shelter Act of 2020, legislation to provide critical funding to states and local governments responding to the needs of families and individuals experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 crisis. This legislation was included and passed through the HEROES Act and H.R. 7301, the Emergency Housing Protections and Relief Act of 2020.
  • On April 10, 2020, Rep. Pressley urged Congressional leadership to prioritize recurring monthly cash payments to those most at-risk during the COVID-19 crisis. This funding would allow people to cover all their bills, including rent.
  • On April 17, 2020, Reps. Pressley, Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and colleagues introduce the Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act, a bill to institute a nationwide cancellation of rents and home mortgage payments through the duration of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • On May 11, 2020, Reps. Tlaib, and Joe Neguse (D-CO) urge House and Senate leadership to include $11.5 billion in funding for Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) in the next relief package to aid the nation’s homeless population who are experiencing heightened vulnerability during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • On July 24, 2020, in a Financial Services Committee hearing, Rep. Pressley discussed the unprecedented financial cliff facing millions of renters and homeowners, the economic consequences of millions losing their homes, including the ability to return to work, and why funding for legal representation is so critical.
  • On July 28, 2020, Rep. Pressley, Rep. DeLauro and Sen. Harris introduced the Housing Emergencies Lifeline Program (HELP) Act to provide much-needed, layered assistance to those facing eviction amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • On May 18, 2021, Reps. Bush and Pressley sent a letter to the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), calling on the CDC to strengthen and extend the federal moratorium on evictions, ensuring families can remain safely in their homes for the duration of the COVID-19 global health emergency.
  • In June 2021, Congresswoman Pressley, along with Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), re-introduced the Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act, a bill to institute a nationwide cancellation of rents and home mortgage payments through the duration of the coronavirus pandemic.