Saturday, September 22nd, 2018: Over 250 residents gathered for citywide assembly to build a People's Plan for housing development in Boston. Along with resident-led neighborhood groups Reclaim Roxbury, Dorchester Not for Sale, and Keep It 100 for Real Affordable Housing and Racial Justice and other Boston-based housing justice organizations in the national Homes for All campaign, we began drafting the plan. The assembly centered the needs of Bostonians on the front lines of the displacement crisis and proposals were generated by these residents.
After the "People's Plan" assembly, participants marched to the national YIMBYtown ("Yes In My Backyard") conference of advocates for increasing housing supply. Despite a last-minute relocation of the scheduled plenary and an attempt by some YIMBYtown organizers to prevent protesters from entering, over 100 residents, many from Roxbury, boldly paraded in.
Groups sponsoring the protest included Reclaim Roxbury, Keep It 100 for Real Affordable Housing, City Life/Vida Urbana, Dorchester Not for Sale, New England United for Justice, and Action for Equity.
Lisa Owens, Executive Director of the 45-year-old housing justice organization City Life/Vida Urbana, led the interruption alongside Roxbury residents.
"I'm greeting you as a woman who grew up around the corner," Owens said. "I stand here as a member of the Homes for All coalition...The people most impacted by the displacement crisis must lead this housing movement, and anyone who believes differently is not an ally of racial justice," said Owens.
City Life/Vida Urbana has supported tenants - predominantly Latino and African American - in over 75 building-wide "clear-outs" in the past five years.
Owens then appealed to potential YIMBY supporters: "There are some people in the room that truly care about affordable housing. And unfortunately some who have taken on the YIMBY banner have been co-opted by people who want to put more money in developers' pockets," Owens said, referring to many YIMBYs' push for new luxury housing through deregulation.
The coalition of neighborhood and non-profit groups that organized the "People's Plan" assembly launched a pledge campaign on Monday, September 24th, via Twitter, asking YIMBYs in Boston and around the U.S. to support the campaigns of Bostonians in the grip of the city's historic surge of displacement.
Saturday, September 22nd, at 10 Putnam St., First Church of Roxbury - BUILD A PEOPLE'S PLAN for Boston's future!
Register now at bitly.com/bostonpeoplesplan.
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!
**Light lunch, child care, and interpretation provided!**
What's happening at the assembly?
**We'll weave together a variety of housing initiatives (and related initiatives about zoning, jobs, land, and transit) that our neighborhoods are actively fighting for and will particularly focus on consolidating city-wide demands and equitable development standards that are created thru a community-run process.
**We'll connect the impact of our experiences to build shared power.
**We'll build our movement for Homes for All and our relationships between Boston's neighborhoods to advance a vision of equitable development in which community engagement is central and we stop forced-displacement of our low-income communities of color.
Our Lady’s Guild House (OLGH) has operated in the Fenway for more than 60 years as a residence providing affordable housing for women of all ages and income levels at 20 Charlesgate West. Comprised of roughly 120 units, OLGH’s stated mission in 1993 was to “provide safe and affordable housing for single women, working women, retired women or students.” However, it appears their operating model has changed, as their website now advertises “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.” Rents at OLGH have rapidly risen since 2012 to the point that they are no longer below market rate. Dozens of disabled, older, and low-income women have already been pushed out to make way for short-term residences and AirBNBs aimed at students and young professionals.
We believe the owners have chosen to not renew the leases of women over 50 in a concerted effort to get the older women out of the building and replace them with students and younger women to whom they can charge market rate rents. Some of these older women facing eviction this July 31st have lived at OLGH for decades.
We need your support to help these women continue to live in their homes. This tax-exempt charitable organization is engaging in blatant age discrimination and causing unnecessary displacement. Please show that you support these women’s right to remain in their homes by signing below.
Watch our video on Boston Neighborhood Network News:
To urge the Daughters of Mary of the Immaculate Conception (owner) and Marc Roos Realty (property manager) to…
Reverse their decision to terminate leases with long-term older residents at Our Lady’s Guild House as of July 31st, 2018. The impending evictions are for no fault, nor for any other legitimate reason than refusing to continue to lease to older women. As these women are denied lease renewals, their very rooms are being advertised online to attract new and younger tenants.
Provide new and renewable leases that allow these older women to remain at Our Lady’s Guild House as long-term residents, instead of forcing them out of their homes. Single-room occupancy is the only housing they can afford in Boston.
- Reverse the new policy of short-term rentals in this 120-room building, which limits leases to two years while adding AirBnB hotel-like rentals. This practice is displacing low-income Boston residents in favor of transitory, mostly-affluent visitors and students, as well as reducing the critically needed inventory of permanent housing in the city.
Thank you for signing,
Lisa Owens, the Executive Director of City Life/Vida Urbana, inspires the crowd at the organization's 45th birthday celebration.
Over 300 people celebrated grassroots work to prevent evictions at City Life/Vida Urbana's 45th birthday bash, Uprise.
City Life members and supporters busted a move at the end of the organization's 45th anniversary celebration.
Housing justice organizers and supporters of City Life/Vida Urbana celebrated at City Life's 45th anniversary party.
Roxbury-born actress and singer Lovely Hoffman performed a rendition of Andra Day's song "I'll Rise Up" for City Life/Vida Urbana's 45th birthday bash.
Gail Appling and Andres Del Castillo MC'd City Life/Vida Urbana's 45th birthday celebration, Uprise, on May 19th.
Multimedia installations including video documentaries chronicled City Life/Vida Urbana's housing justice victories over the group's 45 year history at Uprise.
Red Sage Stories performed improvisational theater based on stories of displacement and resistance that they gathered from the audience.
Multimedia installations including large-scale collage brought to life City Life/Vida Urbana's housing justice victories over the group's 45 year history at Uprise.
Celebrate Black history and take action for racial justice! Honor the legacy of one of Boston's greatest leaders for housing justice, the late Jim Brooks. Then TAKE ACTION - MAKE CALLS to the MA State legislators to SUPPORT the Jim Brooks Community Stabilization Act. And turn on the volume for this video - you won't want to miss the beautiful song in it. #YesOnJimBrooks
Read the wrap-up of our State House hearing on the Jim Brooks Act in Banker and Tradesman! ThenMake calls to PASS the Jim Brooks Community Stabilization Act TODAY! Find numbers here: https://www.facebook.com/events/219483488621371/ #YesOnJimBrooks
How can we stop the displacement crisis? Steve Meacham, our longtime Community Organizer, talks about REAL ANSWERS on the nationally-syndicated podcast Radio Open Source with Christopher Lydon. LISTEN HERE: http://radioopensource.org/gimme-shelter/