Today, tenants have no way to protect themselves from bullying, mobbing, hostile environment harassment, and retaliation, nor can they enforce their rights. Bullying deprives the target of dignity, safety, social connection, and psychological health and creates a toxic community.
Today we support the bill of Senator Lovely S900, along with Representative Honan’s bill H1443—to provide training, guidelines, and resources. The bills rely on the owner/manager to assure the peaceful enjoyment of all tenants. We must also have oversight, protection, and hold landlords to account when they fail to collaborate with tenants and build a healthy community.
After years of being bullied, harassed, and mobbed, I chose to leave to save myself, spending nearly one year as a homeless person while living in a tent and my car. All of my church friends said I was much happier homeless than being victimized, which I agreed with.
Bullying attacks our dignity. Pamela Goodwin, one of our most dedicated activists, and I have been participating in the work of the Dignity Alliance (DAM). Their major focus has been on frail elders and disabled persons living in nursing homes and other institutional settings, and those living independently in the community. We need to prepare for Beacon Hill hearings on bullying bills. And we need information about bullying among children of tenants.
COVID is roaring back with the Delta variant. It is early days, so what is known will be changing rapidly with new studies and clinical experience. This is a good time to take stock and plan for survival.
Our health is affected by pollution from burning fossil fuels. Some of us are making a stand against the installation of a new gas and oil fueled electrical generator in Peabody MA, about a mile from where I live. There has been no comprehensive public health or environmental assessment of this project which threatens the health of elderly, children, and all those with health conditions such as asthma, COPD, and heart disease. The threat to public health, the environment, and the climate is echoed everywhere.
Senator Joan B. Lovely spoke about her role as a legislator and her advocacy on housing and bullying, and noted a number of bills and committees dealing with these issues. She spoke at “Bending the Arc Toward Housing Equity,” organized by the Massachusetts Human Rights Coalition.
Excitement is in the air. It is spring, people are being vaccinated, and we all anticipate a speedy end to the crisis. But wait, there’s more. It will be weeks before everyone who is willing is vaccinated, and there are variants which the vaccine may not protect us from. We all need to continue taking every precaution for weeks to come. Together, we can survive the pandemic, and the governor should reconsider his policies on reopening and enforcement. Caution is most important for elderly people, including those living in public or subsidized housing, because we are the most vulnerable to the severe outcomes of COVID. “For the two week period prior to April 14, 2021, the average age of Massachusetts residents who have died from COVID-19 was 74 years old.”
More than $10 billion in private financing has been invested in public housing thanks to the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program. But housing advocates say it comes at a cost, and there still isn’t enough oversight of the program. As Beacon Hill considers legislation to assure the renovation and continuation of public housing, including through public-private partnerships, we are concerned about the rights of tenants under private developers. Lillian M. Ortiz provides us with a history of privatization that must inform our efforts going forward. We are proud to publish this guest article by Lillian M. Ortiz, originally published in Shelterforce, the voice of community development. Lillian M. Ortiz is the Managing Editor of Shelterforce magazine. Shelterforce is an independent publication that serves (and sometimes challenges) community development practitioners across the United States.
If we act to prevent the surge which has already begun, there is hope. If we deny the real danger, we will be doomed. COVID doesn't despair or hope, it mutates, multiplies, and has the advantage. To survive, we should use the vaccine in a strategic way, reduce indoor gatherings, and enforce mandated masking.