Community based solutions and recommendations took center stage last night at the Boston City Council Hearing on Displacement, Stability and Neighborhood Preservation sponsored by Councilor Tito Jackson. Boston Residents Call for Just Cause Eviction, Transit Zone and Neighborhood Stabilization Pilots, New and Increased Resources for the Creation and Preservation of Affordable Housing and Expansion/Creation of Community Control of Land and Neighborhood Development.
Thank you to Councilor Frank Baker (District 2, Chair of Housing Committee), Councilor Tito Jackson (District 7, Sponsor of Hearing), Councilor Charles Yancey (District 4), Councilor Josh Zakim (Councilor 8), Councilor Matt O’Malley (District 6) and Councilor Ayanna Pressley (At-Large) who attended the hearing.
“Up with the wages, down with the rents!” rang the shouts of tenants and community activists as they marched into City Hall Plaza April 7th ahead of a City Council hearing on solutions to the displacement crisis.
Led by tenants who have been forced out of their homes by speculative developers, the march began on Hudson Street in Chinatown, where protesters called on First Suffolk LLC to halt its acquisition of historic brick row houses that threatens to displace low income immigrant families.
Pei Ying Yu, an elderly tenant displaced from her Hudson Street apartment, broke into tears as she described the ordeal of being forced from her home after the building was purchased by First Suffolk LLC. “All we want is to return to our home,” said Yu.
Maria Christina Blanco of City Life/Vida Urbana said that both tenants and homeowners feel the effects of displacement, as their families are priced out of the neighborhoods they grew up in.
“We are here to talk about Just Cause Eviction paired with mediation to prevent displacement,” said Blanco. “There should be a specific reason for eviction, and there should be support for owners that keep rents affordable.”
Kadineyse Peña of the Boston Tenant Coalition called for increased developer payouts under the city’s Inclusionary Development Program and for targeting resources to low and moderate income Bostonians most threatened with displacement.
“Rents keep going up, but wages have been stagnant,” said Peña, citing a Brookings Institution study that placed Boston third in a ranking of major US cities with growing income inequality gaps. “Developers are making huge profits and need to pay their fair share.” Others noted that a real estate transfer tax on luxury sales has brought more than $100 million in new revenues to San Francisco.
Several speakers called for neighborhood stabilization zones around new transit nodes and in rapidly gentrifying areas like Chinatown or East Boston. Harry Smith of the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative promoted Community Land Trusts as a model for stabilizing neighborhoods and promoting development without displacement.
“Community land trusts are a proven model. It’s time once again to take a stand and own the land across the city,” said Smith.
The Right to Remain Campaign is an emerging citywide coalition: (in formation) Right to the City Boston, Right to the City VOTE, Boston Tenant Coalition, Alternatives for Community & Environment, Boston Workers Alliance, Chinese Progressive Association, City Life/Vida Urbana, Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation, Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, Fairmount Indigo Line CDC Collaborative, Greater Four Corners Action Coalition, Jamaica Plain Progressives, Neighbors United for a Better East Boston, New England United for Justice.