Legislation to stop bullying of elderly, disabled

he Massachusetts State House on Beacon Hill, statue of General Hooker

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?


The legislative process

S709 has been assigned to the Joint Committee on Housing. H522 was assigned to Elder Affairs, but may be reassigned to Housing. We will invite many tenants, organizations, and stakeholders to attend hearings at the state house and to testify. Prior to that we will engage legislators to share background information, research, and stories. We will reach out to stakeholders to listen to their ideas as well as to share our concerns. If you have ideas and experience with bullying in subsidized housing, we want to hear from you. And if you have an example of housing where there is no bullying, or where bullying and mobbing have been overcome, we want to learn from your experience. Mobbing takes place when the institution condones and participates in bullying.


By Ms. Lovely, a petition (accompanied by resolve, Senate, No. 709) of Joan B. Lovely, Bradford R. Hill, Leah Cole, William N. Brownsberger and other members of the General Court for legislation to create a commission to study ways to prevent bullying of tenants in public and subsidized multi-family housing. Housing.

Background of S709

Based on a right of petition established in the Constitution of the Commonwealth, Jerry 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 last legislative session in January 2013 (188th, 2013-2014). Despite a very effective hearing before the Joint Committee on Housing, and collaboration to improve the language involving Rep. Paul Heroux, Rep. Jay Livingstone, Sen. Lovely, Michael Kane and others, the bill was not deemed ready for passage.

In order to keep the bullying issue alive, and engage legislators and stakeholders in working together, Rep. Brad Hill urged revising S604 to create a legislative study commission; this bill became S2329.

S2329 was developed by Jerry Halberstadt, Coordinator of the Stop Bullying Coalition, in cooperation with Rep. Brad Hill, Sen. Joan Lovely, and others. The Chairs of the Joint Committee on Housing, Rep. Kevin Honan and Sen. Jamie Eldridge, were generous in their support of rapid progress on this issue. S2329 was approved by the Senate at the end of the last legislative session, although it failed in the House. Sen. Lovely has now resubmitted S2329 from the last session as a new bill, S709.


By Mr. Heroux of Attleboro, a petition (accompanied by bill, House, No. 522) of Paul R. Heroux and others for legislation to prevent and respond to bullying of elderly and disabled residents of public or privately-owned subsidized multifamily housing developments.

Background of H522

House H522 proposes legislation to prevent and respond to bullying of elderly and disabled residents of public or privately-owned subsidized multifamily housing developments.

This is a revised version of S604. It is based on the school bullying legislation, and sets forth in detail methods and systems for preventing bullying. It places responsibility on management and landlords, and proposes to include residents in the process. Rep. Paul Heroux and Rep. Jay Livingstone are working with Michael Kane, Executive Director of the Mass Alliance of HUD Tenants, to further develop the language of the proposed law.

We need your comments and input

See "comments" below to add your voice.

History of the Stop Bullying Coalition

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


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


Jerry Halberstadt
Coordinator, Stop Bullying Coalition
Mail: Coordinator"@"StopBullyingCoalition.org (remove " to send mail)
Twitter: @PhotoLumination




Our Residents' Association in a Senior apts management company in CA has for 15 yrs. been struggling to stop bullying (depending on the Resident mgr.& her boss, and upwards) that comes in various forms. About 2 1/2 yrs. ago we scored some victories—to be seen as people, individuals; with a slight loosening of ridiculous HUD rulings coming out of D.C. But we never know when and how and for what bullying will pop up, now largely from upper mgt. With a growing Hispanic population in CA, the landlord still does not put out announcements in Spanish, so we try to make up for that with each other. It's stressful for us (ages abt. 65-90s) not to feel safer from "announcements" or harassments from on high, that are occasionally arbitrary.

An additional problem in our HUD Section 8 complex is bullying by some residents to other residents (2 men and one woman in particular so far), of both the verbal and physical variety that our landlord will do nothing about. Some of this has been going on for the whole 15 years we have been open. I hope your legislation bills will reflect these kinds of realities, especially since yours is the only model out there so far as we know.

In reply to by Rachael H. Fisk (not verified)


Rachael, Thanks for your input and ideas. Indeed, the situation you describe is all too common, and I applaud the efforts you have made to improve things.

Yes we do hope to address the issues you mention: inappropriate controls by management needs to be replaced by management respecting and working with tenants; and tenants should not bully other tenants. When management permits such bullying to take place, that is what I call "institutional bullying." It is wrong and should be replaced by a caring, proactive effort that includes setting clear limits on the bullying behavior.

Our goal is to create a legislative study commission that creates a forum for all stakeholders, including management as well as residents, to devise a realistic solution. Perhaps to create a framework that will enable residents, managers, landlords, and many others to work together in each local situation.