During virtual Beacon Hill testimony before the Joint Committee on Housing on Tuesday, October 12, Jerry Halberstadt testified on the need to establish an independent, statewide ombuds office to protect elderly and disabled persons who live in public or subsidized housing from bullying, mobbing, and harassment.
Halberstadt is the Coordinator of the Stop Bullying Coalition which acts on behalf of over 92,000 tenants in some 1,400 developments across the Commonwealth. He lives in a subsidized housing development in Peabody. He said,
Let us Now Improve Ombuds Bill S1084 for Effective Protection
A well-designed ombuds office is essential to protect the rights and well-being of tenants in public and subsidized housing for elderly and disabled tenants. We have been seeking relief for almost a decade, and we are no longer pleading and petitioning, we now demand legislation to protect our rights.
Today, tenants have no way to protect themselves from bullying, mobbing, hostile environment harassment, and retaliation, nor can they enforce their rights. Bullying deprives the target of dignity, safety, social connection, and psychological health and creates a toxic community.
A Bill Establishing an Ombuds Agency Protecting Tenants From Bullying, Mobbing, and Hostile Environment Harassment in Elderly Housing
The bill as filed by Senator Joan Lovely:
Below is the version as developed by the Stop Bullying Coalition
The goal of all our efforts is not to create a utopian community where everyone loves each other and there is no strife. No, it is make it possible for people to live together despite their differences and to create a social environment that is, at least, not toxic and harmful.
This is possible through a common understanding of the limits of behavior and having a way for people to resolve differences without resorting to aggression---physical, emotional, bullying, or mobbing.
We are proud of Edith Stephenson, our colleague in Missouri who advocates for the rights of the elderly and disabled.