I write today about our “Pariah Street,” where 28 low-income families are changing their lives.
South of Boston lies a sleepy middle- to upper-income community with a population approaching twenty thousand, and a housing authority that oversees about 220 elderly housing and 28 family residences.
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Our bill has a new number, S1984, and is formally sponsored by the Joint Committee on Housing. It has been assigned to the Senate Committee on Rules which has the power to schedule a bill for consideration by the senate. Our bill has strong support in both branches and we are hopeful of early passage, although it could be passed any time before the end of the session in early January, 2016.
The Joint Committee on Housing of the Massachusetts Legislature (the General Court) has amended and now sponsors our bill to create a legislative study commission, S1984. The commission will study ways to prevent bullying of tenants in public and subsidized multi-family housing.
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
We have a special reason to celebrate in Massachusetts. Our testimony on S709. the bill to create a commission on bullying, will be heard by the Joint Committee on Housing on Tuesday, July 14, 2015 at the state house on Beacon Hill in Boston; in room B1 from 10:00 AM. Our sponsoring legislators worked with us to make sure our bill would be considered in this first session of the committee.
Now we need your help to convince the members of the committee to favor our cause, and to approve the bill, so we can stop the bullying.
Murder, mayhem, and mobbing
When a murder takes place in subsidized housing for the elderly and for younger disabled persons, it is shocking and tragic. Subsidized housing facilities are also the scene of bullying and mobbing. All these instances of aggression disrupt community life and pose difficult challenges for management, first responders, service providers and the wider community.
Are the elderly and the disabled incompatible? Do the laws and policies which require the integration of subsidized facilities somehow lead to bullying and murder?
A message to our legislators on Beacon Hill
A plague of bullying creates a toxic environment in subsidized housing—victimizing elderly people and younger disabled people in the place they call home. Bullying prevents a healthy community life, and is harmful to managers, staff, and visitors, as well as to the residents. Bullying deprives victims of their human and civil rights. They experience isolation, exclusion, rejection, malicious gossip, emotional abuse and even violence. They live in fear of unfair eviction and homelessness. Their lives are consumed by conflict, fear, stress, and both emotional and physical illness.
Victims are almost never able to get relief. At present, our laws, social service agencies, and accountability systems do not protect victims. Remedies are lacking, no one has the tools or resources or even a plan that has been proven to work. We ask you, our representatives, to support S709, a legislative study commission, that will bring together stakeholders, experts, legislators, and constituents to craft a solution.
The Stop Bullying Coalition has been instrumental in advancing not one, but two bills aimed at preventing bullying. Each is pending consideration in this legislative session on Beacon Hill. S709 proposes to bring together lawmakers and stakeholders in a commission to study the problem and propose solutions, while H522 proposes a detailed program of action and solutions similar to the school bullying law. We agree on the urgent need for legislation, pursue different paths to the common goal. What comes next?
Bullying happens in every kind of community, and anyone could be a perpetrator or a victim. For example, even the manager of subsidized housing can be bullied by residents. Such a claim, of harassment by frail elderly residents was made by Rachel Robbins, the manager of Winslow Arms Apartments, a HUD-subsidized project for 65 elderly and disabled persons.(1)
Our advocacy efforts and pending legislation is already a model for the nation. I just received this copy of a letter from an "Ordinary Citizen" to her legislators in Oregon.
Today we are many who are advocating for legislation to stop bullying of elderly and disabled residents, but two years ago I was a lone advocate. With your help and advocacy we in the Stop Bullying Coalition have enlisted twenty sponsors of two antibullying bills and we have achieved momentum towards passage of legislation early in this session. And a growing awareness and concern about human and civil rights motivates other bills that address problems of safety and wellbeing in housing or protection from bullying in the workplace.