Mission and History
The Boston Housing Authority (BHA) is a public agency that provides subsidized housing to low and moderate income individuals and families. In addition to conventional public housing communities throughout Boston, BHA offers rental assistance programs. BHA receives federal and state funding in order to provide housing programs to qualifying individuals and families. The funding requires BHA adhere to any applicable housing regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development.
BHA’s mission is to provide stable, quality affordable housing for low and moderate income persons; to deliver these services with integrity and mutual accountability; and to create healthy living environments which serve as catalysts for the transformation from dependency to economic self-sufficiency.
In keeping with its mission, BHA has established specific policies governing eligibility for admission and continued occupancy of all its public housing developments and units. Housing developments are built and operated with either federal or state financial assistance. The federal program dates back to the initial occupancy of the Mary Ellen McCormack Houses in May of 1938. State legislation in 1948 initiated the state-aided program.
In total, BHA currently owns and/or oversees approximately 12,623 rental units of public housing in Boston and houses more than 25,000 people under the public housing program. BHA owns 63 housing developments. Of the 63 developments, 36 are designated as elderly/disabled developments and 27 are designated as family developments. Three of the 27 family developments have elderly/disabled housing on site and one of the elderly developments has designated units for families.
In addition to housing developments, BHA administers approximately 11,469 rental assistance vouchers, otherwise known as Tenant-Based Section 8 vouchers, that allow families to rent in the private market and apply a subsidy to their rent. A similar state program assists an additional 700 households. With this assistance, residents are able to pay approximately 30-40 percent of their income toward rent and BHA pays the remainder. BHA helps provide housing to approximately 29,000 people under these programs. In addition, BHA provides subsidy to more than 2,100 households under its Section 8 Project-Based Voucher and Moderate Rehabilitation programs as well.
BHA was established by the Mayor and City Council in October of 1935 in accordance with the provisions of General Laws, Chapter 121, secs. 26 I et seq. Since the 1930s, public housing has continued to evolve in response to changing social and economic conditions and remains an integral part of the government's commitment to meet the basic housing needs of its people.
BHA is managed and controlled by an administrator who is appointed by and serves at the pleasure of the Mayor of the City of Boston. Since June 10, 2009, William McGonagle has served as Administrator, with “the power and authority to act as the Mayor’s agent with respect to all matters affecting the BHA, including without limitation the power to execute any and all documents as needed with such matters.” View the BHA's current organizational chart.
The BHA Monitoring Committee is responsible for reviewing matters relating to the management and performance of BHA and to report these matters to the Mayor. The Monitoring Committee is appointed by the Mayor and includes nine members; at least five of those are public housing tenants and one is a Section 8 program resident.
Learn more about BHA's housing communities and browse a statistical overview.