Stop Bullying Coalition Advances Legislative Commission

Mission and progress

Our efforts, supported by citizens, civic leaders, and legislators have achieved a breakthrough. The Massachusetts legislature is considering our bill, S2329, the creation of a legislative study commission "A Resolve creating a commission to study ways to prevent bullying of tenants in public and subsidized multi-family housing." The mission of the Stop Bullying Coalition is.... READ MORE...

to advocate for remedies, including legislation that will study the causes and identify the remedies for bullying and to introduce laws and programs of education and intervention that will prevent bullying; with a focus on people living with age and/or living with disability in public or subsidized multi-family housing.

Progress report

On Wednesday, 18 June 2014, the Joint Committee on Housing of the Great Court of Massachusetts reported out a "resolve" S2329 creating a commission to study ways to prevent bullying and to protect elderly and disabled tenants living in subsidized, multi-family housing from bullying. It is now moving through the committee process towards possible passage in the current session.

Jerry Halberstadt, Coordinator of the Stop Bullying Coalition believes this resolve "to be the first effort in the nation seeking legislation to protect elderly and disabled tenants—urgently needed because bullying is truly harmful and deprives people of their human rights and their civil rights."

This bill, which has bipartisan support and is sponsored by the Joint Committee on Housing, would create a well-balanced legislative study commission including representatives of key administrative offices, representatives of important joint legislative committees, and advocates of elderly and disabled citizens living in subsidized housing. Chairmen of the Joint Committee on Housing, Kevin Honan and Jamie Eldridge, were generous in their support of rapid progress on this issue.

Based on a right of petition established in the Constitution of the Commonwealth, Halberstadt, with help from Michael Kane and input from many others, including targets of bullying, submitted a petition and bill to the legislature. This became a bill, S604, submitted "by request" by state Senator Joan Lovely at the beginning of the current legislative session in January 2013 (188th, 2013-2014).

"The Commission signals important recognition by legislators and state agencies of the bullying epidemic that plagues so many tenants in senior and handicapped buildings," commented Michael Kane, Executive Director of the Mass Alliance of HUD Tenants. "We look forward to working with the Commission to develop comprehensive, resident driven solutions to this problem."

The Commission will bring together legislators, state agencies, and consumer advocates to understand the causes of bullying, to seek solutions, and to provide a report on their findings to the legislature with recommendations for action. They will gather information and testimony from experts, stakeholders, and the public, holding hearings in several parts of the Commonwealth. The work of the Commission is expected to raise public awareness of the problem of bullying affecting elders and disabled.

Mary Margaret Moore, Executive Director of the Independent Living Center of the North Shore and Cape Ann (ILCNSCA), said "Civil and human rights need to be afforded to all, and currently those of us who are looked at as having less worth, specifically those living with disabilities as well as seniors, are still at risk of being treated like objects, controlled by others who have more cultural status, and thus receive societally condoned discrimination, abuse, and violence. This commission will hopefully be able to develop statewide, regional, and local strategies to stop the bullying, especially against those trying to live independently and productively in their own homes, regardless of subsidies."

The problem

There are three types of bullying—improper, harmful, repeated efforts to control other people—bullying, group or social bullying, and mobbing. Bullying takes place between individuals; social bullying involves peer groups; mobbing or institutional bullying is social bullying tolerated or supported by the institution and management. Current laws and practices are not adequate to protect either staff working in, or citizens (elders and disabled) living in, subsidized housing. Where bullying is uncontrolled, life is consumed by conflict, fear, stress and illness. People are not able to live or work in peace. No one is held accountable for the quality of life in these buildings. It is difficult or impossible for citizens to get relief from bullying in subsidized buildings.

Partners of the Stop Bullying Coalition

We seek to enlist partners to work together to advocate for remedies, including but not limited to legislation. We have done our best to identify the issues, ideas for intervention, and have proposed the goals and vision outlined in this document. We now reach out to all individuals and organizations who have a stake in these matters, and we seek their collaboration and input. Together we need to develop our shared goals and strategy, because solving these problems will take much energy, persistence, and the wisdom of people with a diversity of experience. Please share your ideas! Write to: Coordinator@StopBullyingCoalition.org

Join our effort

Please call your Massachusetts state senator and representative today to urge passage of S2329, the "resolve creating a commission to study ways to prevent bullying of tenants in public and subsidized multi-family housing" that was approved by the Joint Committee on Housing on June 18.

Find contact information for your legislators at: https://malegislature.gov/People/Search

History

The history and development of the Stop Bullying Coalition is outlined in blog posts at: http://photoluminations.com/drupal/?q=taxonomy/term/61

Partners

Independent Living Center of the North Shore and Cape Ann Inc

The Independent Living Center of the North Shore and Cape Ann Inc. (ILCNSCA) is a service and advocacy center run by and for people with disabilities. "Services and Advocacy for an Independent Life" ILCNSCA supports the struggle of people who have all types of disabilities to live independently and participate fully in community life.

Mary Margaret Moore, Executive Director, 27 Congress St, Suite 107, Salem, MA 01970, 978-741-0077
mmmoore@ilcnsca.org | www.ilcnsca.org | www.facebook.com/ilcnsca

Mass Alliance of HUD Tenants

The Mass Alliance of HUD Tenants, a branch of the National Alliance of HUD Tenants, is a multi-cultural, tenant-controlled alliance of tenant organizations in privately-owned, multifamily HUD-assisted housing. Hundreds of tenant associations representing thousands of tenants in every region of the country are already involved, working together to Preserve affordable housing * Protect tenants' rights * Promote tenant ownership and control

Michael Kane is the Executive Director of the Mass. as well as the National Alliance. 42 Seaverns Avenue, Boston, MA 02130, tel: (617) 267-9564, naht@saveourhomes.org

CONTACT

Jerry Halberstadt
Coordinator, Stop Bullying Coalition
Mail: Coordinator@StopBullyingCoalition.org
Twitter: @PhotoLumination

Comment

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I am interested in information regarding the bill that is trying to be passed. Was it passed if not why not? If yes why yes. I am going to try and get a bill in Ohio. And would like some direction regarding what has worked and what has not. Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter.
Sincerely,
DIANN BOONE

Comment

Diann, thanks for your question, and I welcome you as a fellow-advocate for our rights.

I've tried to report our efforts in detail in this blog, and my forthcoming book, Stop Bullying will provide a blow-by-blow of our advocacy strategies and tactics. In the previous legislative session I proposed a bill that was modeled on antibullying laws. It wasn't able to be reported out of committee, but instead we drafted a new bill that proposed a legislative study commission. That made it through the Senate but we ran out of time and it didn't pass the House.

In the current legislative session, that same bill for a commission has been submitted by my State Senator, Joan Lovely, and we are hopeful and working hard to get it passed before the end of the legislative calendar. And a modified, improved version of my original bill is being promoted by others.

I think the commission bill has a good chance of passage. Legislators have been very receptive and supportive. They were aware of the problem and grateful that we brought it to a focus. Bullying is a difficult problem to solve and we need to work together not only to pass the legislation, but to develop effective interventions.

The advantage of taking this approach is that we thus engage, educate, and get the endorsement of key leadership in the legislature, input from several state agencies, and engage all stakeholders---landlords, managers, tenants, social service agencies, first responders, and more. We feel the process is the best way to assure that the stakeholders will support any legislation and be willing to abide by the provisions.

Please keep us informed about your issues and progress! Perhaps we need to band together in a national network to share ideas and experiences, and to support each other. We can do this.

Jerry