Phoebe's Story: The System Failed Her

“Phoebe,” an elderly woman with disability, had lived comfortably in public housing, surrounded by her family photographs and heirlooms, inherited furniture, favorite books and records, with her clothing in closets, and with her parakeets for company. Today, she is homeless with her few possessions in paper bags.

The root cause of Phoebe’s homelessness is the failure of her landlord, the local housing authority, and the lack of any protections for a tenant who is the victim of mobbing.

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Seeking ombuds legislation on Beacon Hill

Dear Senator Lovely and Representative Walsh,

In the remaining time before the end of this legislative session, can we please establish the ombuds office, possibly by an amendment to S900/H1407?

For a decade, the Stop Bullying Coalition has been seeking a way to protect elderly and disabled tenants living in subsidized and public housing from bullying and mobbing.

Ombuds Now!

Together, landlords, management, and tenants help to create a polity, a form of governance with accepted norms and rules that are enforced, and with a means to resolve disputes. Everyone shares responsibility and no person—housing provider/landlord, manager, staff, resident, or visitor either bullies or is bullied. The landlord acts to prevent and mitigate bullying and prevents mobbing from emerging. There are resources, incentives, and guides to enable a positive community, and there is oversight and accountability over the landlord.

Urgent Need, Targeted Remedy

We, the elderly and disabled tenants of public and subsidized housing, need legislation to establish an independent ombuds office to protect us from bullying and mobbing and hold landlords accountable. The Attorney General has decreed that preventing harassment is the responsibility of the landlord, and failure to act is unlawful. However, there is no effective remedy available to targets of bullying and mobbing. The solution is an independent ombuds office with the power to receive reports, investigate and evaluate, resolve where possible, and with the authority to hold the landlord accountable before the law—this is essential to protect tenants from bullying and mobbing, and thus assure their rights.

Social Aggression, Bullying, and Mobbing

Pamela Goodwin
Pamela Goodwin, a tenant in subsidized housing in Greenfield, initiated and organized a panel presentation on social aggression, bullying, and mobbing that was held on Saturday, April 30, 2022 as part of the 51st annual spring convention of the Mass Union of Public Housing Tenants (MUPHT ) in Marlborough MA. Goodwin responded to a groundswell of concern among tenant leaders about bullying and mobbing. She knows that a legislative solution is not in sight, and that the existing systems do not provide relief to targets of bullying. She decided to enlist the experience of other tenants who, like herself, had tried to find their own solutions. Solutions can be found when tenants help each other and when management is helpful and responsive. Nevertheless, problems remain that require new legislation to create an ombuds office.

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COVID Transmission in Essex County and Peabody, Massachusetts

June 30, 2022. Information about transmission and ongoing current infections in Essex County and Peabody, Massachusetts. Links to data sources enable the reader to learn the situation in their locality. The sources used are the CDC data on transmission; levels of COVID found in wastewater; and % positivity in Essex County and Peabody. These are all leading indicators preceding cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. For detailed information about strategies for protecting yourself and your community, see The New "How to Avoid COVID" http://stopbullyingcoalition.org/newcovid

The New "How to Avoid COVID"

UPDATED: June 27, 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 their soundest conclusions to share with you.

Assure Tenant Rights

Dramatic clouds over apartment building
We, tenants who live in public and subsidized housing, seek legislation to prevent the weakening or loss of rights that arises when public housing is put into private hands, and effective protection from bullying in public and subsidized housing. We should include all multi-family residential facilities under a single oversight agency, to assure that all citizens have all of their rights respected. Why should there be different rights depending on the landlord's source of income?