News from the Heart of the City: Issue 21 / Noticias desde el Corazón de la Ciudad: Número 21

As we enter the Holiday season and the new year approaches, we want to recognize all the hard work we have done at the end of the year in our Newsletter: The Heart of the City #21. Every single person deserves stable housing, and this pandemic made this clearer than ever before. / A medida que nos acercamos a la temporada navideña y al año nuevo, queremos reconocer todo el arduo trabajo que hemos realizado te animamos que aprenden y leen nuestro: Noticias desde el Corazón de la Ciudad #20. Todas las personas merecen una vivienda estable, y esta pandemia lo ha hecho más claro que nunca.

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Protect emergency rental assistance! Statewide rental+mortgage relief updates/ ¡Protejan la asistencia de renta de emergencia! Alivio estatales de renta + hipotecas

Please get your group to endorse this letter NOW to prevent the state from ending pandemic emergency rental assistance. We need sign-ons. Feel free to read the state's declaration here. / Por favor, haga que sus grupos respalden esta petición AHORA para evitar que el Estado ponga fin a la asistencia de renta de emergencia de la pandemia. Necesitamos que lo hagan a más tardar el viernes al mediodía. No dude en leer la declaración del Estado aquí.

The Baker administration has abruptly decided to ramp down emergency rental assistance... even though there are millions in unused, available federal funds that could be employed to continue this critical help. Key changes that will begin to ramp down the program take effect January 1, 2022 unless we push the Governor, DHCD, and the State Legislature to act NOW./ La administración de Baker ha decidido abruptamente reducir la asistencia de renta de emergencia ... a pesar de que hay millones en fondos federales disponibles que no han sido utilizados que podrían usarse para continuar con esta ayuda crítica. Los cambios clave que comenzarán a reducir el programa entrarán en vigor el 1º  de enero de 2022 a menos que presionemos al Gobernador, a DHCD y a la Legislatura Estatal para que actúen AHORA.

Meme used for Housing Equity Bill Twitter Storm / Meme usado durante "tormenta de tweets" en apoyo de la propuesta de ley de Equidad de Vivienda

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Rouse fights in court to win damages$ by APM followed by vigil to demand multi-year contract/ Rouse lucha en corte para obtener pagos por daños causados por APM seguida por vigilia para exigir un contrato de varios años

Friday, December 3rd: The organized tenant association from Advanced Property Management  (APM) buildings in Hyde Park and housing advocates gathered at Doyle Playground to march to Stephanie Rouse’s home for a vigil in support of Ms.Rouse’s fight to win a motion to reconsider damages caused by APM. Rouse, who is a disabled great grandmother and a cancer survivor, has faced terrible conditions, a no fault-eviction, and targeted retaliation for her organizing at the hands of APM. Tenants showed up on Friday to demand that Rouse get the same multi-year cont​​ract they have along with just compensation for the years she lived in life threatening conditions. / El viernes 3 de diciembre: La asociación organizada de inquilinos de los edificios de Advanced Property Management (APM) en Hyde Park y los defensores de la vivienda se reunieron en el parque infantil Doyle para marchar a la casa de Stephanie Rouse para hacer unaVigilia en apoyo a la lucha de la Sra. Rouse para ganar una Moción para reconsiderar los daños causados por APM. Rouse, quien es una bisabuela discapacitada y sobreviviente de cáncer, ha enfrentado condiciones terribles, un desalojo sin culpa y represalias específicas por su organización en manos de APM. Los inquilinos se presentaron el viernes para exigir que Rouse obtenga el mismo contrato de varios años que tienen junto con una compensación justa por los años que vivió en condiciones que amenazaban su vida.

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Fairlawn tenant leaders march to DSF office and demand negotiations after 3 years of dead ends/ Líderes de inquilinos de Fairlawn marchan a la oficina de DSF y exigen negociaciones después de 3 años

Tenant leaders from the Fairlawn Tenants Association were joined by residents from other tenant associations across Suffolk County in a march to DSF Group’s office, as a part of the “Homes! For the Holidays'' action series organized by City Life/Vida Urbana. With the support of over 50 tenants, homeowners, a city councilor, and community members from across the city–Fairlawn leaders called upon DSF to meet with them to start negotiations for a fair contract. Fairlawn leaders have been without a lease for 3 years while fighting off rent increases, ever since DSF group purchased the Fairlawn building and renamed it SoMa by the T. / Los líderes de la Asociación de Inquilinos de Fairlawn acompañados por los residentes de otras asociaciones de inquilinos de todo el condado de Suffolk marcharon a las oficinas del Grupo DSF,como parte de la serie de acciones de ¡Hogares! Para las fiestas. organizad por City Life/Vida Urbana. Con el apoyo de más de 50 inquilinos, propietarios de viviendas, una concejal de la ciudad y miembros de la comunidad de toda la ciudad, los líderes de Fairlawn pidieron a DSF que se reuniera con ellos para iniciar las negociaciones de un contrato justo. Los líderes de Fairlawn han estado sin un contrato de renta durante 3 años, mientras luchaban contra los aumentos de renta, desde que el grupo DSF compró el edificio de Fairlawn y le cambió el nombre a “SoMa at the T”.  

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Broadway Capital’s “Miky V.” meets organized tenants he’s neglected during Chelsea Planning Board meeting, efforts halts 20 unit luxury condo decision

Tuesday, November 30th: Organized Broadway Capital tenants and advocates gathered in Chelsea City Hall to oppose Managing Director of Broadway Capital  Mikael R. Vienneau's project proposal for 20 luxury condos at 146-150 Williams & 65 Pine street. This project proposal would worsen gentrification in the City of Chelsea and price out long-term residents already struggling with terrible conditions. / El martes 30 de noviembre, se reunieron los inquilinos y los defensores organizados de Broadway Capital en el Ayuntamiento de Chelsea para oponerse a la propuesta de proyecto del Director de Broadway Capital, Mikael R. Vienneau,  de 20 condominios de lujo en 146-150 Williams y 65 Pine Street. Esta propuesta de proyecto empeoraría la gentrificación en la ciudad de Chelsea y afectaría a los residentes de mucho tiempo que ya enfrentan condiciones terribles.  

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#GivingTuesday Support the work that keeps families in their homes // #MartesdeDar: Apoye el trabajo que mantiene a las familias en sus hogares

We hope you consider donating to support the critical work City Life / Vida Urbana does today and beyond the pandemic this holiday season. Please make your gift today while it's on your mind. Donate here

En esta temporada navideña, esperamos que considere hacer una donación para apoyar el trabajo crítico que City Life / Vida Urbana está haciendo durante y más allá de la pandemia. Haga su donación hoy, mientras lo tiene en mente. Done aquí.

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Digital Day of Action, PASS H.1443/S.891 #HousingEquityMA / Día de Acción Digital, APRUEBA proyecto H.1443/S.891 #EquidadDeVivienda

In November, HFA led a digital day of action in response to the formal legislative session ending last week 11/17. We tweeted, made calls and emails to hit communications lines of Housing committee co-chairs Senator Keenan and Representative Arciero. // En noviembre, la HFA lideró un día de acción digital en respuesta al final de la sesión legislativa formal que terminó la semana pasada el 17 de noviembre. Tweeteamos, realizamos llamadas y correos electrónicos hace los copresidentes del comité de vivienda, el senador Keenan y el representante Arciero.

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COVID-19 Housing Equity Bill State House Action Recap / Resumen de la Acción de apoyo al Proyecto de Ley de Equidad de Vivienda durante COVID-19

Towards the end of October, tenants, homeowners, and Homes For All Mass (statewide coalition HFA) rallied in front of the statehouse to urge the Joint Housing Committee to immediately advance the COVID19 Housing Equity Bill (H.1434/S.891). / Hacia finales de octubre, los inquilinos, propietarios de viviendas, y los de la coalición Hogares Para Todos MA (HFA) se manifestaron frente a la casa estatal para ponerles presión al Comité de Vivienda a avanzar de inmediato el Proyecto de Ley de Equidad de Vivienda durante COVID19 (H.1434/S.891).

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Report on Boston evictions during the Covid-19 pandemic is live! // Ya está disponible el reporte sobre los desalojos en Boston durante la pandemia de Covid-19

We teamed up with MIT's Department of Urban Studies and Planning, and found extreme racial disparities in eviction filing patterns.

Hemos colaborado con el Departamento de Estudios Urbanos y Planificación del MIT y hemos descubierto disparidades raciales extremas en los patrones de solicitud de desalojos.

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Renters at SoMa Apartments in Mattapan rally to prevent evictions as their landlord, DSF Group, refuses to negotiate

Saturday, July 17th, 2021: About 75 tenants and supporters rallied at SoMa Apartments to demand that DSF Group, the corporate owner of the housing complex, either negotiate affordable, long-term leases with households living there or sell the property to an owner who will do so. The protest was led by the SoMa Apartments Tenant Association in collaboration with City Life/Vida Urbana.

The crowd rallied at the entrance to SoMa Apartments and then paraded along the winding footpaths of the property, accompanied by a lively brass band while displaying colorful signs that said "People Over Profit" and "We Shall Not Be Moved". 

Photo: A resident of SoMa Apartments rallies with the tenant association to stop rent hikes and displacement at the 300+ unit apartment complex (credit: City Life/Vida Urbana).

The parade ended in Mattapan Square, where long-time residents of SoMa Apartments performed street theater depicting a mock trial in which DSF Group is charged with outrageous rent hikes, threatening no-fault evictions, and giving organized residents the silent treatment when they call for meetings.

"I've been a resident of here for 48 years and I've always paid my rent on time," testified Ms. Annie Gordon, a SoMa Apartments renter, as part of the street theater. "But 3 years ago, when DSF Group bought the complex, they raised my rent by over $300," she said, noting her inability to pay the increase on her fixed retirement income.

After hearing from several resident "witnesses" in the mock trial who shared similar experiences about receiving overnight rent hikes of hundreds of dollars and threats of eviction, the "judge" in the skit issued a lyrical decree.

"This is my ruling, DSF Group: to your wealth you are addicted, your behavior must be restricted, in this trial you have been convicted. So, DSF, YOU'RE EVICTED!," the mock judge pronounced. 

Photo: SoMa Apartments resident Betty Lewis (foreground) rallies for stable housing with the activist street band BABAM! (Boston Area Brigade of Activist Musicians) in front of her apartment complex (credit: City Life/Vida Urbana).

"We asked DSF Group to sit down with our tenant association and negotiate a fair rent increase, but they refused to sit down with us," said Gordon. 

During the time in which Gordon hasn't paid the unaffordable rent hike codified in the lease DSF has presented, the company has repeatedly sent her $500 charges on a monthly basis. Those charges, which Gordon is also unable to pay, have racked up to several thousand dollars that DSF alleges she owes. Other longtime households at the complex have similar stories. 

Photo: Residents of SoMa Apartments and supporters march for affordable, long-term leases holding a sign in Haitian Creole that reads "Housing Is The Cure!" (English translation). Credit: City Life/Vida Urbana.

"Corporate greed doesn't even stop for a global pandemic," said Helen Matthews, Communications Director at City Life/Vida Urbana. "The only thing that can stop corporate greed is collective organizing like what the SoMa Apartments Tenant Association is doing here," Matthews said.

Lawmakers locally and nationally are debating the eviction crisis as a problem of non-payment evictions during the pandemic, and many are essentially ignoring families' struggles with rent hikes, luxury redevelopment, and the "no fault" evictions that follow corporate profit-seeking, say organizers at City Life/Vida Urbana. 

"They're greedy," said Manuel Mena, a SoMa Apartments resident when describing his landlord's refusal to meet negotiate with tenants.

Rally participants also called for the passage of a state-wide law known as the COVID Housing Equity Bill which would pause no-fault evictions, prevent non-payment evictions, and support distressed homeowners during the pandemic recovery period.

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