Being Human in Housing
Everyone needs other people, we are social. Despite the chaos and the selfish and callous mood in the world today, we are built to be altruistic, to take satisfaction from being a contributing member of a community.
We can lose that connection with others when we live in public or subsidized housing. Being poor is never an easy life, but couple poverty with old age or disability, and life can be hard. Once we accept help from the government, we lose our agency and the rights we had always taken for granted. In public and subsidized housing, we are at the mercy of the landlord and sometimes of other tenants. Bullying destroys the possibility of developing supportive and healthy community life.
What are our options?
Work and move out (find a bridge!)
Advocate to change the circumstances for all
Organize and fight for our rights in our home; sometimes works, sometimes can lead to bullying by tenants seeking control.
Those of us who are able to work and earn are prevented by the rules that take away more in lost benefits than the money we earn.
Work to earn enough to escape
It is possible to escape. Kolya Lynne Smith has turned her frustration with an oppressive housing management into an escape plan. She is creating a path to greater independence as an independent writer and travel guide. She is an inspiration!
Volunteer and/or learn new skills
Do you have or are you eager to gain skills that can be your ticket to freedom? For those of us who don’t choose to return to gainful work, there are many options for building a creative life, for helping our neighbors and our community as a volunteer. We can find ways to engage with others and rediscover joy and satisfaction in our lives.
Organize and advocate
Another way to fight for our rights is to organize, advocate, and persist with the goal of legislation that will assure protection and safety. But today, after almost a decade of effort, we have not reached the success we deserve—we only ask for our basic rights as humans, as citizens, and as tenants. So today I am reminded of the refrain of a classic blues lament about knowing right from wrong, the “How Long Blues” song by Jimmy and Mama Yancey: “How long, how long, how long, how long will it be...” before we get relief, how long before we have our rights, how long before we don’t suffer from bullying in our homes?
Our focus on bullying and mobbing is not the only effort that has hit a wall on Beacon Hill. Legislation to create a right to counsel that would provide an attorney to assure the rights of a person facing eviction has stalled despite a wide spectrum of support within the legislature as well as in the community.
"One eviction notice can quickly multiply into a series of losses that leaves people reeling. I see people losing their homes, their kids’ schools, their jobs, their communities, and all of their support systems. We can change this and turn one eviction notice at a time into a tenancy preserved."—Attorney Laticia Walker, Massachusetts Right to Counsel Coalition
We will be attending the 2022 Negro Election Day Celebration on July 16, 2022, at the Salem Willows park in Salem. We will be there to watch the parade, meet friends, listen to great music, eat, and enjoy the day, while providing information at our "vendor" table about the Stop Bullying Coalition. Stop by to say hello! For more about the event, go to www.salemunitedinc.org