On July 27th, our "Justice Bus" - filled with older women fighting eviction and supporters - rolled into New Britain, Connecticut. We organized the journey to protest no-fault evictions at a Fenway rooming house called Our Lady's Guild House. Mother Jennifer (the head of the order of nuns that owns the building) and Marc Roos Realty have been trying to push out a group of older women there, but the women are rising up to save their homes.
Right when we got off the bus, the sky opened up - a summer storm drenched us. We had to hold our rally and press conference under thundering clouds.
But our protest went on! Several local outlets showed up and published stories about the evictions, including WTNH Channel 8, the New Britain Herald, and Fox 61.
After the rally, we piled our wet signs back into the bus and drove to Mother Jennifer's residence nearby. When we attempted to deliver our petition with over 1,300 signatures to Mother Jennifer, she refused to talk to us. So we held a rally across from her residence.
Our bus ride was all about perseverance and solidarity as a community: we won’t let unjust evictions continue!
An estimated 10 to 20 older women in their '60's, '70's and '80's were told to leave Our Lady's Guild House by the end of July of last year. They hadn't violated their leases or failed to pay rent; these were "no fault" notices to quit. Many women pack their bags and left. Three women have eviction cases in housing court, and at least 5 others remain without a lease and have yet to receive a court summons.
This past winter, theresidents engaged the Massachusetts Attorney General's office regarding concerns over age discrimination and the misuse of charitable status, as reported by The Boston Globe. The AG's investigation is expected to result in public findings this fall, and the evictions are on pause while the investigation is underway.
Without their tiny rooms to call home in Boston's searing hot housing market, many of the women are unsure where they could live.
"It's upsetting. It's hard to find housing in Boston. It's the 3rd most expensive city in the country for housing," Siobhan O'Connor, one of the older women facing eviction, said on a recentNBC Boston news story.
The nuns have stated that their mission is to “provide safe and affordable housing for single women, working women, retired women or students.” But OLGH's website recently advertised “a short-term residence for women between the ages of 18 and 50 years old who work in the Boston area and/or attend school or internship programs” (this language was promptly edited once the tenants began organizing). Some units in the building have also been recently advertised to tourists on the short-term rental website AirBNB.
Although the building ostensibly operates under a charitable mission, Colleen Fitzpatrick, a Community Organizer at Fenway Community Development Corporation, said, "We're asking the question: What charitable mission is really being served here now?"
"The new people moving in are predominantly students, and both voter rolls and resident testimony indicate that the average age of residents has plummeted," Fitzpatrick added.
"The evictions of the OLGH women are part of alarger trend of Single Room Occupancy (SRO) building-wide clear-outs," said Steve Meacham, Coordinator of Organizing at City Life/Vida Urbana. "Even owners who are supposedly mission-driven are jumping in on real estate speculation now, but we're demanding that this building become permanently affordable housing," Meacham added.
City Life/Vida Urbana has recently supported rooming house residents facing eviction from two other buildings, and we're working to build more relationships with other Boston rooming house residents to prevent displacement.
This June, we launched our biggest spring fundraising campaign in City Life history. Over the last two years, over 70 of our members and community have gone through our Radical Redistribution training and gained the skills we need to be grassroots fundraisers. By building our organization with small donations focused in our communities, we’re able to ensure that City Life has full autonomy to fight for real and systemic change.
We went in to our spring fundraiser with an optimistic goal of raising $30,000 from grassroots fundraising efforts. This was especially challenging because we didn’t have a huge fundraiser event like we did last year, so if we were going to meet our goal, we needed to try something different, and we did a lot:
36 people, mostly CLVU leaders (and even some brave new supporters) leveled up their fundraising skills through volunteering to be powerbuilders.
we held 4 trainings/workshops in June, 3 in JP and one in East Boston
we had folks come in last week to phonebank (thanks Robin, Claire, Bob, and Judy!)
and we sent over 800 letters to donors to let them know what we're up to
And it paid off!
Our goal was: $30,000, 300 donors, 30 new sustainers
We had 294 donations (85 of these are new donors!)
We have 22 new sustainers (monthly donors)
Which means that, as a result of our work, we raised $30,216. We met our goal!
Thank you to everyone who participated, volunteered, donated, and shared our posts on social media. We couldn’t have done this without you.
When you have moldy walls, flooding, and carpet from the last millennium - AND get retaliatory rent hikes and eviction notices for complaining - what do you do? ORGANIZE! Thanks to the 100+ people who came to the Stony Brook Village Tenants Association's rally on June 2nd, 2019. People power is what it takes to send the message to Lincoln Ave. Capital and Sawyer Realty Holdings: NEGOTIATE!
The Stony Brook Tenants Union formed in November 2018 to fight against the unhealthy housing conditions, rent increases, and evictions at Stony Brook Village in Hyde Park, a subsidized apartment complex. Since that time, management (Sawyer Realty Holdings, Newton, MA) and the landlord (Lincoln Ave Capital) have not addressed our complaints, and in fact have retaliated against many of us with exorbitant rent increases and unjustified evictions. Unrepaired mold, pests and other dangerous conditions in our homes are damaging to our health, and the constant rent increases above the subsidized payment standard are threatening to displace us.
SBTU has sent multiple open letters to the landlord and management laying out these problems, the latest was co-signed by 50 tenants of Stony Brook Village, representing half of the units in the building, and there has been no response! Lincoln Ave. Capital: meet with the union and meet our demands!
Get your feet in the street and show solidarity with people around the Boston area facing eviction! Sign up for our Action Alert List HERE.
Build real solutions to Boston’s displacement crisis, led by the people most impacted.
REGISTER NOW: bit.ly/HFABoston629. 10am to 4pm, Saturday, June 29th, at Vietnamese American Initiative for Development (VietAID), 42 Charles St, Boston, MA 02122
Tired of neighbors, friends and family getting displaced? Think the rent is too damn high? Tired of widespread luxury development? Then JOIN US for a Boston assembly to build a people’s plan for equitable development and an end to displacement.
LUNCH / CHILDCARE / INTERPRETATION
Hosted by Right to the City Boston and our Homes For All local partners and allies.
The 10,000 new units of housing proposed by HYM Investment Group for the former Suffolk Downs race track would, in essence, add an entire new neighborhood to Boston. It's impact would be acutely felt in the predominantly working class immigrant neighborhood of East Boston.
To email a quick comment, simply click here. Ask the Mayor and HYM to:
1. Mayor Walsh: Slow down the process! Work with housing advocates and residents to address our concerns.
2. Mayor Walsh and Tom O'Brien: The project needs to have real affordability. The Boston People's Assembly (a citywide gathering of residents creating a People’s Plan for Boston) demands that all new development must have at least 50% affordability for families. We agree! Suffolk Downs should have 50% affordability for families at 25% of Area Median Income.
3. Mayor Walsh and Tom O'Brien: Work with housing justice advocates and residents on creating a displacement mitigation plan that will keep East Boston families in our homes. In another part of the city, the Fairmount Corridor, the mayor pledged to protect the housing of all residents at risk of displacement. You both have a responsibility to protect all Eastie families.
4. Mayor Walsh and Tom O’Brien: Ensure that weather-resistant green spaces like the parks, bike lanes, and outdoor theater are publicly visible and accessible for all neighborhood residents to use.
City Life's work with older women fighting eviction at Our Lady's Guild House was featured on the front page of The Boston Globe. We're on the ground supporting the women alongside Fenway Community Development Corporation. The nuns that own this large rooming house, The Daughters of Mary of the Immaculate Conception, have strayed from their mission of helping those in need and instead are operating much like the large profit-driven owners we deal with every day. After reading the article, SIGN THE PETITION in solidarity with these bold women - help us reach 1,500 signatures!
We're on WBUR's Radio Boston, talking about how the displacement crisis has hit Egleston Square. What does it take to stop the displacement of historically redlined immigrant neighborhoods like Egleston? Organizing for real affordability & tenant protections!
INCREDIBLE NEWS! Ms. Rosa Poincy, a Dorchester grandmother and Section 8 renter at the Baker Chocolate Factory apartments hasWON A NEW LEASEafter facing imminent no-fault eviction.
How did Rosa's victory happen?
First, Rosa made the courageous decision to speak out for her home, instead of just packing her bags. Then,YOU signed apetitionthat garnered over 1200 supporters. Next, we held a beautiful and strong vigil and rally in front of Rosa's apartment, where Rosa made it clear that *she wasn't going anywhere*. Groups likeDorchester Is Not for Sale,Dorchester People for Peace, Right to The City Boston and the City's Department of Neighborhood Development joined Rosa's clarion call for justice.
But what was the magic sauce?Rosa took a risk.She believed that if she stood up, the community would rise with her. AND WE DID!
Every day, we see low-income families of color getting pushed out of Boston's overheated housing market for no fault of their own, due only to real estate greed. But we can, and do, win homes back.
City Life/Vida Urbana will be CLOSED from Tuesday, December 25th, 2018 through Tuesday, January 1st, 2019.
There will be no weekly Tuesday night meetings in Jamaica Plain on Tuesday, December 25th, 2018 or Tuesday, January 1st, 2019. Tuesday night meetings will resume on Tuesday, January 8th, 2019. Thank you and happy holidays!
VIDEO RELEASE: What will it take to hold our communities together during Boston's displacement crisis? A PEOPLE'S PLAN for housing development, led by neighborhood residents on the frontlines of the crisis. WE'RE BUILDING IT alongside many partner organizations in Right to the City Boston. Sign up to get involved at reclaimboston.org.