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Administrative files of the court-appointed master

Identifier: 9000.009

Scope and Contents

Since 1935 the Boston Housing Authority (BHA) has been responsible for planning, building, and managing housing for low-income families and the elderly in Boston, Massachusetts, with financial assistance from state and federal agencies. As the result of a suit brought against BHA in the Housing Court of the City of Boston, the court in 1975 appointed a master to oversee BHA's management. Administrative files of the court-appointed master were created and maintained by the master in carrying out responsibility for monitoring activities of BHA in accordance with provisions of a consent decree signed in 1977. Files contain correspondence, memorandums, reports, legal records, notes, and budgets relating to every provision of the consent decree including financial management, leased housing policies, contract management, maintenance, modernization programs, personnel practices (equal opportunity and affirmative action), purchasing, security, tenant selection, energy conservation and utilities, court actions taken in conjuction with consent decree, and related lawsuits. This series reflects the interrelationship of the court-appointed master with parties of the consent decree (BHA, Greater Boston Legal Services, and Boston Public Housing Tenants Policy Council), as well as with city, state, and federal agencies, including the state Dept. of Commerce and Development and the federal Dept. of Housing and Urban Development. Correspondence files of the court-appointed master, 1979-1980 contains correspondence and other files of the master during BHA's transition to receivership.


  • Creation: 1975-1979


Conditions Governing Access note

Restricted. Consult with Archivist.

Historical note

The Boston Housing Authority (BHA) was established by order of the Boston City Council on October 1, 1935, pursuant to St. 1935, c. 449, s. 5 which empowered cities and towns of Massachusetts to establish housing authorities. Such a body is responsible for providing decent, safe and sanitary housing for families unable to afford housing without public subsidies and for clearing substandard, decadent or blighted open areas under the provisions of MGLA c. 121B. To carry out these responsibilities BHA develops and manages housing projects and leases housing when necessary. It also performed the functions of an urban redevelopment authority until such a body was established separately pursuant to St. 1957, c. 150. The management and governance of the BHA has deviated from that of other housing authorities since 1975, when BHA was sued in Boston City Housing Court by a group of BHA tenants, represented by Greater Boston Legal Serives, over poor conditions in housing projects under the authority's control. As a reult of the ruling in favor of the tenants, a court-appointed master prepared a report listing recommendations that provided the basis for a consent decree signed in 1977 by BHA, Greater Boston Legal Services and the Boston Public Housing Tenants Policy Council. The decree detailed a series of improvements that BHA was to make over the course of three years. The master, responsible for monitoring BHA's compliance with the consent decree, gave approval for all major decisions made by the BHA board and administrator. In 1979, the judge ruled that BHA had failed saisfactorily to fulfill the terms of the consent decree and BHA was placed in receivership, with its board of commissioners and administrator replaced by a court-appointed receiver. Since 1990, when the receivership ended, BHA has been directed by an administrator whose activities are reviewed by a nine member monitoring committee appointed by the mayor of Boston.

Source: Massachusetts State Archives catalog record


23.25 Cubic feet (23 record cartons and 1 document case)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Boston Housing Authority records were transferred to the City Archives from the Massachusetts State Archives on January 26, 2010.

Administrative files of the court-appointed master
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Repository Details

Part of the City of Boston Archives Repository

201 Rivermoor St.
West Roxbury MA 02132 United States
617-635-1194 (Fax)