2018 Accomplishments

House Meeting Campaign

In 2018, the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization engaged new leaders in a large-scale House Meeting or “Listening Campaign,” engaging 33 congregations and 1,846 people across Greater Boston. Top issues that emerged from the campaign included healthcare affordability and access, affordable housing and immigration. (Other issues of interest: Gun Violence, Climate Justice, Education Reform, and Racial Justice.)

Health Care

GBIO focused on the merger of Beth Israel and Lahey Health Systems along with 12 other hospitals – the biggest merger in our state since the Partners Healthcare System was created in 1994.

The Team worked successfully with the Attorney General’s office, the Department of Public Health, and the Health Policy Commission to impose an unprecedented price cap on the merger that will save Massachusetts residents over $1 billion over the next 7 years. In addition, the agreement improves access for low income/Medicaid customers and contributes $72 million to support community health centers.

 

Criminal Justice Reform

On April 13th, 2018, GBIO celebrated as Governor Charlie Baker signed landmark Criminal Justice Reform legislation which included GBIO’s platform:

1. Repeal of mandatory minimums for low level drug offenses
2. Bail reform
3. Reduction of post release fees and fines
4. Reduction of solitary confinement time

Following this legislative victory, GBIO joined the Massachusetts ACLU in the What a Difference a DA Makes campaign to engage District Attorney candidates in criminal justice reform. GBIO received commitments from Suffolk County DA candidates, including now-elected District Attorney Rachael Rollins, to implement more just policies: 1) reform of mandatory minimum sentences, 2) diversion and restorative justice practices, before arraignment, 3) elimination of bail for charges with no possibility of a state prison sentence, and 4) improved data and transparency.

Affordable Homeownership

GBIO’s Affordable Homeownership campaign began with a successful fight for the adoption of the Community Preservation Act (CPA) in the city of Boston, which guaranteed a new source of funding (at least 10% of $20 million annually) dedicated to affordable housing.

In 2018, the campaign for equitable and affordable housing continued. GBIO, along with the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance (MAHA), organized to address Boston's racial homeownership gap. GBIO is pleased that Mayor Walsh included new homeownership specific goals in its updated 2030 plan and included an interest buy-down financing mechanism which, at $50 million, could enable 1000 new homeowners to purchase homes over 5 years.

 

 

Jeep Jones Park

Somali mothers from the Roxbury and ISBCC community organized to improve the safety and equipment at nearby Jeep Jones Park. After leaders met with City Councilor Kim Janey, the Parks Department filled potholes, removed encroaching branches and cleaned the park.

At GBIO’s October action, in front of Councilor Janey and 1,487 GBIO members, Firdosa Hassan, a neighborhood mother, and Steve Mitchell, a Timilty School administrator, told the story of children playing on the park’s unfenced cliff. Councilor Janey answered their call and is currently negotiating with the Mayor's Office to add improvements to Jeep Jones Park to the city's upcoming capital budget.

 

Dearborn School

From 2009 to 2014, GBIO leaders, including then-GBIO President Rev. Hurmon Hamilton of Roxbury Presbyterian Church, fought and won a battle to replace the deteriorating Dearborn Middle School with a $73 million, state-of-the-art grade 6-12 STEM academy for students in its under-served Roxbury neighborhood.

In 2018, Rev. Hamilton returned to Boston to attend Mayor Walsh’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, but the celebration became a demand for action as key staff positions remained unfunded. Nearly 225 GBIO leaders were present to demand full funding. In response, some positions were filled and GBIO and Roxbury Presbyterian Church continue to monitor progress.