STATE REPRESENTATIVE
PAUL C. CASEY

Room 473-B
State House
Boston, MA 02133
Telephone: (617) 722-2230
District Office
585A Main St.
Winchester, MA 01890
Telephone: (617) 721-7285 or (617) 438-7185

A View from the Hill

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 1, 2001
CONTACT: Michael Auerbach (617) 722-2240

A ROOF OVER YOUR HEAD

In 1789 our nation's Founding Fathers introduced ten important amendments to the United States Constitution. The additions, which would become known as the "Bill of Rights," clarified the liberties that American citizens would be afforded under the new government. This important document in American history would protect citizens from undue repression and safeguard their privacy. It is interesting, however, that the Bill of Rights (or for that matter any other part of the Constitution) does not include a person's inherent right to a home.

Then again, if we delve into the history of the 3rd Amendment, such a entitlement is implied. According to this amendment, no soldier of the government is allowed to simply quarter himself in a private citizen's home without permission. The issue surrounding the practice of "quartering" stems from the widespread billeting of British soldiers in American colonial houses during the 17th and 18th centuries. Britain's Sovereign seemed to believe that any colonial man's home was King George's castle. In light of the consternation colonists felt when their home was invaded at will by soldiers, the Founders felt that a person's home is sacred to that individual and that it should be a citizen's right to preserve that sanctity.

Most Americans believe that to live without a home is unconscionable. They would not wish homelessness on their worst enemy, and cannot understand why a person would be unable to find a roof to cover his or her head. As unfair as homelessness seems, millions of Americans either do not have homes or are in danger of losing their residences. One does not have to go into the inner city or venture to Appalachia to see people struggling with this issue. The specter of homelessness looms much closer than one might think.

Greater Boston has seen its housing rates skyrocket in the last ten years. In the Winchester, Stoneham and Reading area, a small two-bedroom condo can sell for $2-300,000! The cost of rentals is also rising; the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment in metropolitan Boston is about $1200 per month. As housing becomes more and more scarce the cost of even a simple one-family house increases exponentially. Indeed, the phrase, "affordable housing," at least in this area, seems to be becoming a contradiction in terms!

No one likes the notion that there simply is no affordable housing in eastern Massachusetts. That is why the state government is doing everything it can to foster the availability of homes and properties, either through the renovation of existing buildings or the construction of new ones. The Department of Housing and Community Development offers a wide range of programs and grants for individuals and families in search of affordable homes. These programs can be found on the department's website, www.state.ma.us/dhcd.

In addition, "Local Housing Authorities" (LHAs) manage state and federal funding for every community, which is directed toward low-rent public housing for families, the elderly and the disabled. Statewide, LHAs manage nearly 50,000 units, 9,000 rental assistance vouchers and 2,000 community residence beds for those with special needs. Among the myriad of bills we are reviewing this session is H.2528, An Act Regarding Preservation of State Assisted Public Housing Stock, which would maintain the progress we have all made by exploring all funding sources for housing authorities. After all, why build new units if the old ones are falling into disrepair and becoming uninhabitable?

Many of you have written and called me to share your thoughts on a number of housing bills. One such bill was introduced by the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless: the "Residential Assistance for Families in Transition" (RAFT). This initiative would allow qualified families access to a flexible fund to remain in their current housing or move into a new home. Other bills focus on budget appropriations for housing programs. Although the state economy has been sputtering lately and revenue sources have been dwindling, we must maintain funding in all future budgets so that all Commonwealth residents can afford a home.

One of the core disputes that spurred the 1776 Revolution was the British abuse of the colonists' natural rights. Foremost among those rights were life, liberty and property. This declaration did not mean that all people were entitled to property, but rather that if they wished to acquire property, they should be allowed to do so. There are many people in Massachusetts who seek a piece of the American dream: a home they can call their own. Providing the resources to avail that home is what being a good neighbor is all about!


Previous articles by Paul Casey:

1998
FORMAL SESSION ENDS WITH A BANG! (8/17/98)
DEFUSING THE THREAT OF TERRORISM (9/01/98)
PUTTING AN END TO "CAVEAT EMPTOR" (10/06/98)
ENDING RECIDIVISM: A CHALLENGE FOR OUR SOCIETY (10/12/98)
BACK IN THE SWING OF THINGS (11/11/98)
SENIORS REAP THE BENEFITS OF HOLIDAY GIFT GIVING (12/02/98)
ENACTING PEARL JAM'S POLICY WILL SAVE TICKET-BUYERS SOME CLAMS (12/12/98)
1999
A TALE OF TWO CAPITOLS (01/11/99)
LIFE AFTER THE CRIME: ADVOCATING FOR OUR VICTIMS (01/25/99)
IT'S TIME WE COMMIT TO CIVIL COMMITMENT (02/01/99)
PUNXSUTAWNEY PHIL SIGNALS MORE THAN CHANGE IN WEATHER THIS YEAR (02/08/99)
LET'S STOP WAVERING ON RIGHT TO UNFURL FLAG (04/12/99)
DNA DATABASE: A FOOLPROOF METHOD FOR FIGHTING CRIME (04/27/99)
FY'00: BUILDING A SHIP THAT WILL STEER OUR COURSE FOR THE FUTURE (05/19/99)
REFLECTING ON OUR NATION'S HEROES (05/25/99)
SCORE ONE FOR THE TAXPAYERS (06/07/99)
IT'S TIME TO SEND THE MESSAGE THAT CRIME REALLY DOESN'T "PAY" (06/28/99)
A HOAX DEVICE IS NO LAUGHING MATTER (07/06/99)
BOND . . . . PENSION OBLIGATION BOND (08/02/99)
ONE WORD FOR GOVERNOR'S VETO: DAM!!!! (08/19/99)
ITS TIME TO BUCKLE DOWN ON BUCKLING UP (08/30/99)
A LESSON ON LABOR DAY (09/03/99)
RAGE AT THE REGISTRY (09/10/99)
A MESSAGE TO TELEMARKETERS: HIT THE ROAD (09/20/99)
GOVERNOR'S FUNDING POTHOLE IN TRANSPORTATION BOND BILL NEEDS FILLING (09/27/99)
BATTLE OF THE BUDGET (10/05/99)
BRAVING THE UNCHARTED WATERS OF THE 21ST CENTURY (10/09/99)
CIVIL SERVICE KEEPS PUBLIC EMPLOYMENT PRACTICES CIVIL (10/18/99)
DON'T GET SPOOKED ON DAYLIGHT SAVINGS (10/25/99)
LET'S NOT CAN THE BOTTLE LAW JUST YET (11/01/99)
A TRIBUTE TO OUR PUBLIC SERVANTS (11/08/99)
DON'T FALL PREY TO Y2K SCAMS (11/15/99)
A COMPACT WE CAN ALL LIVE WITH (11/22/99)
KEEPING OUR COMMUNITIES SAFE FROM SPRAWL (11/29/99)
FY'00 RIGHT ON THE "MARC" (12/13/99)
ROLLING OUT THE RED CARPET FOR CONSTITUENTS (12/20/99)
1999 IN REVIEW: A YEAR OF POSITIVE CHANGES (12/27/99)
2000
RETHINKING THE PRESCRIPTION DRUG ASSISTANCE (01/03/00)
KEEPING WITH THE SPIRIT OF DR. KING'S DREAM (01/10/00)
"HOT" EDUCATION ISSUES AWAIT NEW CHAIR (01/17/00)
LENDING A HELPING HAND TO THE HOMELESS (01/25/00)
STAMPING OUT SMOKING IN MASSACHUSETTS (02/07/00)
MENTAL HEALTH PARITY 'ENLIGHTENS' THE WAY (02/14/00)
STATE WON'T LET CONSUMERS GET THE 'COLD SHOULDER' (02/18/00)
HELPING GOOD SAMARITANS HELPS ALL OF US (02/29/00)
LEGAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS ENSURE EQUAL JUSTICE FOR ALL (03/06/00)
BIG DIG OFFICIALS MUST KEEP THE PEOPLE "IN THE LOOP" (03/12/00)
PREVENTING BIRTH DEFECTS IS A "CIVIL ACTION" THAT MUST BE TAKEN (03/21/00)
PUBLIC LIBRARIES KEEP DEMOCRATIC SPIRIT ALIVE IN AMERICA (03/27/00)
BOSTON JAYCEES TAKE ACTIVE ROLE IN THE COMMUNITY (04/03/00)
GOLD STAR MOTHERS ARE "SHINING" EXAMPLES OF PATRIOTISM (04/11/00)
KEEPING OUR ENVIRONMENT IN "GOOD SHAPE" (04/14/00)
FOR THE CENSUS 2000, EVERYBODY COUNTS (4/24/00)
CAUTION: LAWN CARE PRODUCTS MAY BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH (05/01/00)
SOMETIMES TALK IS NOT SO CHEAP (05/05/00)
WALKING THE DISTANCE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE (05/23/00)
GRADUATION AND COMMON SENSE (05/30/00)
WOMEN ON THE MOVE (06/06/00)
LET'S MAKE SURE OUR EMTS ARE FULLY EQUIPPED (06/12/00)
OLD GLORY, NEW MILLENNIUM (06/19/00)
REVOLUTIONARY" THINKING ABOUT TAXES (07/03/00)
PROTECTING LOVED ONES FROM . . . LOVED ONES (07/16/00)
A MEDICAL BILL WE ARE HAPPY TO RECEIVE (07/21/00)
PROTECTING YOUR GENETIC PRIVACY (08/14/00)
A HOLIDAY GIFT TO REMEMBER (12/15/00)
A TOAST TO YOUR HEALTH, AND A PROMISE TO KEEP IT (12/29/00)
2001
2001: OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW (01/08/01)
HOME OR ABROAD, . . . IT'S PUBLIC SERVICE (01/09/01)
DON'T THROW AWAY THOSE OLD COMPUTERS! (01/19/01)
ALWAYS BY OUR SIDE (01/24/01)
A WOMAN'S WORK IS NEVER DONE (02/02/01)
GROWING AIRPORTS FOR A GROWING POPULATION (02/12/01)
THE STATE OF AIDS (02/14/01)
THE VALUE OF A MASSACHUSETTS EDUCATION (02/21/01)

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