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


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.


After more than 18 months of fending off no-fault evictions, our leaders Tunde Kunnu and Jean Paul Doh are now free from the threat of eviction!

Greg McCarthy, their landlord, tried to "clear out" their entire apartment building at 6 Humphreys Place in Dorchester by issuing no-fault eviction notices.

But with support from the incredible lawyers at Harvard Legal Aid Bureau and City Life/Vida Urbana's deep community organizing, these brave fighters WILL NOT BE EVICTED!

Thanks to the hundreds of you who signed their petition, rallied in Dorchester, spoke out to McCarthy at a public hearing, and showed solidarity in housing court!

Read the Dorchester Reporter's excellent coverage of their powerful victory.


Boston, MA - A rally on Thursday evening, October 17th, 2019, shined a light on a trend of steep rent hikes and unlivable conditions at a 400+ unit apartment complex in Mattapan. About fifty supporters gathered in front of the complex and then marched through the grounds, supporting the demands of organized residents for stable, decent housing. The rally was organized by the Fairlawn Tenants Association with support from City Life/Vida Urbana.

For decades, Fairlawn Apartments in Mattapan was affordable for families, especially low-income families of color and recent immigrants. But since DSF Group bought this 400+ unit apartment complex last year, they've displaced many of these families, according to housing stability organizers from City Life/Vida Urbana who've canvassed the buildings several times in recent months.

Now, three elderly residents are in the throws of a struggle to keep their homes. Ms. Betty Lewis, Ms. Annie Gordon and Mr. Jean Antoine all received new leases this past summer with rent increases ranging from $265 to $365 dollars.

DSF Group, alongside their management company, Corcoran Management, has raised some families' rents by as high as 20%, according to canvassers.

DSF's rent hikes are causing residents to quietly pack up and leave. "People are moving out, but you don't know it, all you see is their furniture in the dumpster," says Ms. Lewis.

"This is a case in point for why Boston desperately needs rent control," says Steve Meacham, a Community Organizer with City Life/Vida Urbana. 

A large percentage of current tenants have been at Fairlawn Apartments for decades and live on fixed incomes. Many Fairlawn residents hold Section 8 vouchers, and many are recent immigrants from Haiti.

In July of 2018, months before the new Blue Hill Ave. stop opened, DSF Group, which is managed by Corcoran Management Company, purchased Fairlawn Apartments for $65 million dollars. DSF Group came to Fairlawn Apartments to take advantage of the community's hard work and the new train stop. They quickly rebranded Fairlawn Apartments to “SoMa Apartments at the T” - short for South Mattapan Apartments at the T. 

SoMa at the T's website advertises its accessibility to a new commuter line station, proclaiming, "We are happy to announce that the Blue Hill Avenue MBTA Commuter Rail Station has just opened right across the street from the entrance to SoMa..."

"It's an unjust irony - after this community advocated for better public transit and put sweat equity into improving their neighborhood, they are getting driven out by because speculative investors like DSF Group see it as valuable now," says Gabrielle René, a Community Organizer with City Life/Vida Urbana working directly with the residents.

Although Mattapan is located within the city of Boston, it did not have a stop on the Fairmount commuter rail line, which had passed through the community for decades. Mattapan residents, along with civil leaders and community activists, believed a train stop in Mattapan would help Mattapan become more accessible and encourage better economic development. For nearly 20 years, these residents worked diligently to bring this train stop to their community. The new Blue Hill Ave. stop on the Fairmont line opened February 2019.

In the beginning of the 2019, a group of tenants met for the first time with the help of City Life/Vida Urbana. They decided to form the Fairlawn Tenants Association to fight against injustices.

The displacement crisis in Boston has affected many communities in Boston, countless families have been displaced and many communities have become gentrified. Mattapan has remained a community with predominately working class and immigrant families.

The elders fighting displacement have sent letters to Corcoran management requesting that they reschedule a meeting with representatives from the Fairlawn Tenant Association to discuss their three demands. The association's demands are:

1. Keep rents for section 8 tenants within the payment standard and keep rent increases for all tenants to a manageable affordable level of 2% per year maximum.

2. Fix the poor conditions in all of the apartments, including addressing pest and mold issues, providing adequate security for the buildings, and allowing children to play outside and providing a safe area such as a playground or park for them to play.

3. Meet with the Fairlawn Tenant Association to work out a long-term plan for the tenants of this building.

Please SIGN THE PETITION to support these courageous renters!


At the 4th Boston People's Plan assembly in late September, dozens of grassroots organizations led by Bostonians on the frontlines of the displacement crisis launched a push for rent control. Over 100 people divided into teams and hit the streets of several Boston neighborhoods, door-knocking and asking residents to sign a pledge to support rent control. 

25 years ago, real estate giants and the politicians that do their bidding dismantled protections from rent gouging and sent our housing market spiraling out of control. Now we're living in the extreme aftermath of that moment. It's time to revive rent control in Boston! 

SIGN THE PLEDGE ONLINE to support rent control in our city: reclaimboston.org/rent_control_pledge