The New "How to Avoid COVID"

UPDATED: January 20, 2022 This information is addressed primarily to tenants of public or subsidized housing for elderly and disabled persons. COVID is an infectious disease spread by the air we share with others. The best way to control disease and protect people from infection is to use public health measures, rather than only to depend on small groups or individuals to protect themselves. I present ideas that an individual or a housing community to use to reduce the chance of infection. The news about COVID has been alarming and the advice has been confusing. Here is my understanding of how I can stay safe. Remember, I can’t give medical advice. But I can read what experts are saying and select the soundest conclusions to share with you. UPDATE FOR PEABODY 01960 14-day Percent Positivity: 21.48 % Reported on: 1/20/2022 Time period: 1/2/2022 to 1/15/2022 Essex County 14-day Percent Positivity: 24.97%

Reasonable Accommodation Request: Making it Stick

Update, January 13, 2022. The 14-day positivity rate for Peabody on January 13, 2021, was 21.74%, based on the period from December 26, 2021-January 8, 2021. The rate for Essex County was 25.78% Despite the fact that my landlord, Preservation of Affordable Housing, accepted my request for a reasonable accommodation is valid, they did not plan to do an effective accommodation. An effective intervention would be, for example, a zero-tolerance masking requirement that was actively policed and enforced. However, their own policy requires them to enforce the posted masking policy, which to my knowledge, they have not done. After the December 22 decision of the Peabody Board of Health to require indoor masking, the attorney for Preservation of Affordable Housing wrote yet another letter urging people to be careful. No effective action has been taken.

Advocacy Example: Reasonable Accommodation Request

Sign "Face Masks Required" on Elevator Door and Lobby Entrance
Update, December 9, 2021. The 14-day positivity rate for Peabody, reported on December 9, 2021 is 6.48%, covering the period from November 21 through December 4, 2021. This represents an increase of 2.6 times over the rate when I first wrote to my landlord seeking a reasonable accommodation to require enforcement of their own rule, to require masking of all persons in the public areas of the apartment building. On December 1, I received material from the attorney representing my landlord, POAH, and Fairweather Apartments. The letter was dated 15 November. The letter grants my request of reasonable accommodation, i.e., to require indoor masking to protect against COVID. But they propose to continue the same, previously ineffective actions. What should I do?

Bullying Legislation To Address Public Housing Crisis

At last, a solid, well-researched, in depth article about major issues in public housing, including bullying, has been published by WickedLocal. The lead article by WickedLocal reporter, Willam J. Dowd, provides an excellent review of the issues around bullying, with interviews and quotes from some of the key players. Against this background, Dowd notes the work of the Stop Bullying Coalition to advance a strong ombuds bill to protect tenants of public and subsidized housing from bullying.

Stop Bullying Coalition Petitions Beacon Hill for Protection

During virtual Beacon Hill testimony before the Joint Committee on Housing on Tuesday, October 12, Jerry Halberstadt and Ms. Kolya Lynne Smith testified on the need to establish an independent, statewide ombuds office to protect elderly and disabled persons who live in public or subsidized housing from bullying, mobbing, and harassment. Their testimonies and that of Ms. Bonny Zeh are available here.

Let's get our rights! with the statewide tenant protective services ombuds program

S.1084 An Act relative to bullying in public housing would establish a statewide tenant protective services ombuds program for elderly and disabled tenants in public and subsidized housing. This legislation should assure protection from bullying and create accountability for landlords. S.1084 must implement and extend the principle stated by the Attorney General—it is unlawful to prevent others from enjoying their rights as citizens and tenants.

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Petition for an Effective Ombuds Office

Let us Now Improve Ombuds Bill S1084 for Effective Protection

A well-designed ombuds office is essential to protect the rights and well-being of tenants in public and subsidized housing for elderly and disabled tenants. We have been seeking relief for almost a decade, and we are no longer pleading and petitioning, we now demand legislation to protect our rights.

Testimony for the Joint Committee on Housing

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.

Advocacy on Bullying

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.