Jim Brooks, a former organizer with City Life/Vida Urbana and a lifelong disability justice activist, passed away this spring. This well-deserved obituary beautifully chronicles Jim's life: "Using a wheelchair to get around, and relying on his unfettered spirit to bring him beyond barriers that block the way of those who can’t walk, Mr. Brooks lived on his own terms as he worked for decades to expand access to the disabled in Greater Boston...In more recent years, Mr. Brooks staffed the phones in the City Life/Vida Urbana offices, and on occasion chained himself to the railings of houses to try to prevent landlords from evicting tenants. 'Up until he died he was defending people from being thrown out of their houses,' [Brian] Shea said."
Mayor Walsh, Boston's displacement crisis is a racial equity issue. We need stronger protections from eviction, not resegregation. Take a stand with us for Just Cause legislation this spring! Boston residents, Call Mayor Walsh TODAY at (617) 635-4500.
City Life Vida Urbana proudly stands up for Boston residents
The City Life family unapologetically fights for social, economic, racial, and gender justice and equity. We view the current displacement crisis as an issue of racial equity, as well as economic and housing justice. We will keep fighting unjust, forced displacement until our entire communities’ right to remain in affordable, quality housing is protected by policy and practice.
We target any big bank or corporate landlord who uses their power to drive displacement. We organize tenants in buildings where the landlord has more than 6 units and doesn't owner-occupy.
Our goal: stabilize families and neighborhoods in the short-term by fighting displacement, and long-term through promoting community control of housing. For homeowners in foreclosure, this means loan modifications, buy-backs, or sales to nonprofits at real value. For tenants of absentee landlords, it means rental contracts with fair, predictable increases linked to the cost of maintaining the property; and/or sales to new owners based on the building's established income stream, rather than speculation.
We always seek to negotiate. We encourage banks and corporate landlords to work with tenants, not against them. And, we refer disputes between owners and tenants living in the same building to impartial mediators and neutral sources of information on the rights of each side.
We stand with the 26 School Street Tenant Association’s efforts to remain in their homes.
A TERRIFIC column on why Boston needs Just Cause protections from eviction just appeared in The Globe! "'There is a housing crisis, but on top of that is a second, overlaying crisis of market pressure and speculative investors,” said Matt Nickell, an attorney with Greater Boston Legal Services. In a place like East Boston, he said, “It’s not uncommon for a landlord to raise the rent three or four times in a single year.' ...The majority of evictions never end up in housing court or on a city’s record books. Most are brutally fast, whole families gone within 30 days. No one knows what happens to them — except a few worried neighbors and the homeless shelters searching for more beds." SIGN THE PETITION for JUST CAUSE NOW: http://www.justcauseboston.org/sign_the_petition
Are you or people you care about impacted by displacement? Do you think it's unfair how rent increases, no-fault evictions, and foreclosures are pushing our neighbors out of their homes and out of our city? We're part of a growing coalition of over 30 grassroots organizations, unions, and other groups calling for a "Just Cause for Eviction" law in Boston! Our eviction laws have not been reformed in decades, and tenants of absentee landlords and foreclosing banks are in desperate need of protection from the growing epidemic of profit-driven evictions.
Visit justcauseboston.org and learn how to take action by contacting your elected officials, through social media, and showing your support at events such as the City Council public hearing Monday, March 14 @4pm.
City Life/Vida Urbana appears in the Boston Globe again.
"Data from the real estate database Zillow show the median monthly rent in Eastie has climbed more than 40 percent in four years, reaching $2,255 in December, bringing the neighborhood in line with rental prices in the rest of the city, according to Zillow’s rental index. Boston rents as a whole increased about 20 percent in the same period.
'You’re taking families away from their social fabric, leading to the weakening of the social fabric and the societal problems we’re seeing in East Boston today,' said Del Castillo, who leads weekly meetings at which residents seek legal help with their housing problems.
'Young people are being moved from home to home, school system to school system. . . . All of this puts kids at risk.'"
READ THE WHOLE STORY BELOW.
In honor of MLK's birthday and the longstanding black community in Dudley Square, City Life/Vida Urbana stood with Felicha, Carolyn, and other remaining renters in the wake of an attempted building-wide "clear out" on Ruggles Street. These remaining renters are now threatened with eviction too.
"As rents rise across the city, Dudley Square seems to be drawing real estate developers who aim to attract tenants seeking the more moderate side of market rate housing....Real estate developers like the Mayo Group apparently are banking on the district’s improved curb appeal as they usher in more market rate units. Brokers and real estate agents also said they expect many tenants to flock in from other neighborhoods as rents elsewhere in the city continue to rise." CLICK BELOW for the whole story.
JANUARY 15TH, 2016, Dudley Square, Roxbury: City Life/Vida Urbana joined forces with Jobs with Justice, Dudley St. Neighborhood Initiative, Alternatives for Community and Environment (ACE), Dorchester People for Peace, and dozens of other neighbors to stand with Felicha Young and other residents who remain in the wake of a building "clear out". Felicha has lived in her apartment for 16 years and, like many longtime Boston residents, cannot afford the escalating rents around her. READ MORE by clicking below:
“'There’s just such an explosion in the rental market and it’s just not possible to find another place,' Maria Christina Blanco, a City Life/Vida Urbana organizer, said. Many who can’t afford their apartments end up on the street, with few affordable options for housing left to choose from, Blanco said. Many, she said, end up in shelters. 'It’s really about working-class tenants and homeowners being able to live in Boston and not being pushed out,' Blanco said. 'That’s what we think is really in everyone’s interest long-term.'"
Our Executive Director, Lisa Owens Pinto, discusses the new book When We Fight, We Win: Twenty-First-Century Social Movements and the Activists That Are Transforming Our World on Boston Neighborhood Network TV's show, People's Platform. Check it out by clicking below!