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When We Fight (and Build), We Win

BII in the Media

How community organizing helped create the East Boston Neighborhood Trust

In October 2022, the newly formed East Boston Neighborhood Trust (EBNT) acquired 36 multi-family buildings in East Boston to preserve 114 units for affordable housing. Celebrated as a significant win in the battle against gentrification and displacement, the Trust was also hailed for its innovative model. Through public and private financing, it raised more than $50 million to finance the purchase. In this case study, we explore how the groundwork for the EBNT was built by years of tenant organizing and grassroots resistance to gentrification. The EBNT is a real-world example of fight and build strategies: where we can both fight against our world as it is, and build worlds as we believe they should be.

The EBNT is the first Mixed Income Neighborhood Trust (MINT) in Massachusetts. Typically, MINT models contain a mix of housing options for different income levels. Higher-rent units help subsidize lower-rent units. MINTs raise capital from a variety of sources, but control of their housing is ultimately governed by a trust made up of community representatives. In East Boston, the opportunity to apply this model came about after almost a decade of fighting against real estate speculators, who had been buying up existing housing and raising rents to evict existing tenants. The community organizations that led the battles for housing justice were the same coalition who mobilized the City of Boston and other funders to buy back a significant set of speculator-owned buildings.