At City Life, we help people stay in their homes. 

City Life/Vida Urbana is a grassroots community organization committed to fighting for racial, social and economic justice and gender equality by building working class power. We promote individual empowerment, develop community leaders and build collective power to effect systemic change and transform society.

Are you fighting to stay in your home?

Join us at one of our weekly meetings, where you can speak with an organizer and lawyer, and meet others that are fighting the same battles! We have meetings in three locations:

Boston: Every Tuesday Night at 6:30, 284 Amory Street in Jamaica Plain. 
East Boston: Every Wednesday Night at 6:30, 28 Paris Street in East Boston.

Check for the next meeting here.

 

Recent News from CLVU


In January, we held our 5th mass meeting for Section 8 tenants so that we can all learn our rights and fight for our homes! We've been meeting in different zip codes around the Boston. In 2019, we gathered with Section 8 residents in Mattapan, Roslindale, Dorchester and Roxbury, and in January, 2020, we met with Hyde Park residents. This formation is a kind of city-wide tenant association for Sec. 8 tenants, and it represents our historic collaboration with the Boston Housing Authority and Metro Housing.

In recent years, we've seen an uptick in Section 8 tenants struggling with rent hikes above the payment standard because there is no rent control in Boston, not even for Section 8 voucher holders. We're organizing so that we can all keep our homes in the face of real estate greed!

If you are a Section 8 tenant that wants to learn how to stay in your home, please contact Judy Burnette (jburnette@clvu.org), Gabrielle René (grene@clvu.org), or Steve Meacham (smeacham@clvu.org). 


In the Spring of 2018, real estate speculators Josh Cohen and Christ Stamatos bought a 6-unit apartment building at 22 Rexford St. in Mattapan. By that September, they were demanding hundreds of dollars more per month from their tenants.

Ms. Ruby James Saucer and Ms. Michelle Ewing are grandmothers who've made a home at 22 Rexford St. for years. Ms. Saucer moved there at the start of the decade after being displaced from her last home during the foreclosure crisis. Both of the women are very involved in their neighborhood - recently, Ms. Saucer became a councilmember of the Mattapan Neighborhood Council.

When Stamatos and Cohen notified the grandmothers of the astronomical rent hike, they marched over to City Life/Vida Urbana for support. They knew they were completely unable to stay in their homes at the raised rent; both live on limited, fixed incomes. The very real prospect of homelessness hung over their heads. So, they committed to fight the increase.

With legal help from Harvard Legal Aid Bureau and public actions alongside dozens of Boston supporters, the grandmothers fought the rent hikes in Boston Housing Court over the course of 17 months and multiple housing court appearances. They also spoke out publicly about their story: they appeared on Boston 25 News and BNN, and in September of 2019 they led a march to Cohen's house in Jamaica Plain. 

Ms. Ewing and Ms. Saucer finally brought Cohen and Stamatos to the negotiating table. In November 2019, Ms. Ewing won a 3-year lease with moderate rent increases, and in January 2020, Ms. Saucer also won a 3-year lease at an affordable rent. Both will remain in their homes.

The grandmothers have also joined the campaign to lift the state-wide ban on rent control. In October of 2019, they spoke at a rally in front of the State House about how rent control would shield people like them from outrageous rent increases and displacement.

The Tenant Protection Act (H.3924) is a bill that would lift the 25-year-old ban on rent control in the state of Massachusetts (as well as allow cities and town to enact other crucial protections from displacement). On Tuesday, January 14th, 2020, we flooded the Massachusetts State House for hearing and rally in support of this transformative bill. 

Now, we're asking YOU to take moment TODAY to call your State representative and senator - ask them to support the Tenant Protection Act. Find instructions on how to call your legislators here: facebook.com/events/464872310870596

The committee reviewing the bill is set to vote on it on Wednesday, February 5th. That's why it's helpful for you to call now! Please make sure to check out the instructions and report that you've called. THANK YOU! #LiftTheBanMA


Saturday, December 14th, 2019: we marched through East Boston with over 100 residents and our coalition partners demanding 50% affordable housing in the plan for the old Suffolk Downs racetrack. Read The Boston Globe's coverage of our march: bostonglobe.com/metro/2019/12/14/protesters-call-for-more-affordable-housing-suffolk-downs-redevelopment.

Immigrant and working families around Suffolk Downs need REAL affordable housing & protections from displacement. That's why we're calling for 50% of the units to be affordable. TAKE ACTION WITH US: sign on to our public letter at reclaimboston.org.

Tom O’Brien (of HYM Investment Group) and billionaire William Bruce Harrison are planning to build the largest residential development in Boston's recent history at the old Suffolk Downs racetrack. They want to build a new luxury neighborhood just like the Seaport—almost 10,000 new housing units—that will largely be far too expensive for most Eastie residents. This will lead to a segregated neighborhood for the rich, causing big rent hikes for the rest of us.

That's why we're joining forces with other grassroots organizations making it loud and clear: 50% of the residential units built at Suffolk Downs should be affordable for folks earning 30% of the Area Median Income (AMI).

A few weeks ago, we shared our demands in a letter drafted by Lawyers for Civil Rights. That letter spelled it out: "A project of this magnitude, in a lower-income, historically immigrant community suffering from rising rents, must incorporate a far fuller set of benefits for the communities of color harmed and displaced by the proposed redevelopment."

Earlier this month, we also submitted a fiery second public letter to the BPDA, criticizing O'Brien's inflexibility around the project's community benefits and the inaccessibility of the community process for Spanish-speakers. That letter points out that HYM is "dead set on approval of the project as is, no matter what the consequences may be for residents of East Boston and the surrounding area."

Help us hold O'Brien and Harrison accountable as they plan this massive new neighborhood that will shape our city for generations; we can't let them build another Seaport under our feet!

Thanks to our coalition partners GreenRoots, Neighbors United For A Better East Boston, MassCOSH, Stand for Democracy, Cosecha Massachusetts, Center for Cooperative Development and Solidarity-CCDS and ZUMIX.


This #GivingTuesday - December 3rd, 2019 - we need your help to reach our $10,000 Facebook fundraising goal to help families keep their homes. On the morning of Tuesday, December 3rd, please make your donation via our Facebook fundraiser (no processing fee will be charged, and it may be eligible for a match from Facebook).

Your donation will help us stop unjust evictions across the Boston area and win strong protections for renters such as #RentConrol. Together we can do this!

Since 1973, City Life/Vida Urbana has worked in Boston's neighborhoods to prevent unnecessary evictions, keep families in their homes, and keep communities in tact. Boston's #DisplacementCrisis, fueled by big real estate, is pushing low-income families of color out of our city, but we CAN stop it and create stable, affordable homes.

It's our mission to fight for racial, social, economic justice and gender equality by building working class power. We use direct action, coalition building, education and advocacy. Through organizing poor and working class people of diverse races and nationalities, we promote individual empowerment, develop community leaders, and build collective power to effect systemic change and transform society.