An open letter to our legislators on Beacon Hill

Dear Legislator,

Have your constituents appealed to you for help to protect them from bullying in public or subsidized housing?

Now you have a way to protect them. Please join now with your colleagues to remedy injustice and create a better life for tenants.

“I am proud to work with the Stop Bullying Coalition and my constituent Jerry Halberstadt on two bills this session dealing with bullying in public housing. Many of my colleagues and I recognize the import of stopping the abuses that too many people, especially the elderly and the disabled, face that prevent them from enjoying their homes.  I look forward to working with the Coalition to spotlight this issue and to come up with solutions to stopping these abuses.”---Senator Joan B. Lovely

“No one should ever be bullied in housing and these bills will go a long way to preventing bullying.”---Representative Brad Hill

“Bullying at any age is completely unacceptable and I look forward to working in conjunction with my colleagues and all stakeholders involved to curb this epidemic.”---Representative Tom Walsh

The Commission on Bullying reported on the extensive and severe problem of bullying in public and subsidized housing---92,000 residents in some 1,400 residential communities. Bullying affects almost half of the citizens who responded to the Survey of the Commission, likely in your district as well.

At present, despite the pain and harm caused by bullying, no remedies, relief, or accountability is available, and this legislation is designed to fill the need for protection of the rights of tenants

The Office of the Attorney General has advised that “All tenants have a right to be free of intimidation and harassment.” The findings of the Commission focus on providing protections which today are lacking, and have been incorporated in two bills presented by Senator Joan B. Lovely, and we view these two bills as complementary.

An act to prevent and respond to bullying of elderly and disabled residents (SD2192) (Lovely & Honan) can provide guidance and direction to assure that landlords and management will know how to prevent bullying and be able to work with tenants to improve community life without the disruption of ongoing bullying or mobbing.

The oversight function of the ombuds office provided by An Act relative to bullying in public housing (SD2195) (Lovely) is essential to assure that the victims will be heard, provided relief, and the landlord and management will effectively prevent bullying and mobbing and thus enable the positive impact of the methods proposed by the Lovely-Honan bill.

An Act relative to bullying in public housing (SD2195).

Presented by Senator Joan B. Lovely, this legislation creates a statewide tenant protective services ombuds program to prevent bullying of tenants in subsidized and public housing for the elderly and people with disability. Representative Bradford Hill joins as house sponsor.

The tenant protective services ombuds program in the Department of Housing and Community Development will provide information and resources to targets of bullying; monitor and ensure compliance with all prohibitions on bullying; receive and refer complaints of bullying and in severe situations, seek legal action from an enforcement authority. Landlords and managers are mandated as reporters, and any person may make a good faith report of bullying to the ombuds program. If a pattern or practice of bullying is discovered, the ombuds will refer the matter to the attorney general.

An act to prevent and respond to bullying of elderly and disabled residents (SD2192).

This bill is presented by Senator Joan B. Lovely and Representative Kevin Honan to establish the public safety division of the Commonwealth’s office of the attorney general as the administrative agency for the creation of model plans by an interagency consultation process to guide residential community practices, including to require ongoing training and education, and to specify procedures for reporting, sanctioning of perpetrators, accountability, and for protecting victims.

An Act protecting elders from bullying HD3286

Representative Alan Silvia has filed An Act protecting elders from bullying HD3286 “to protect our most vulnerable citizens from acts of bullying that are often the cause of psychological stress, depression and disrupts lives.”

On behalf of tenants in public and subsidized housing, we seek your support for new legislation essential to protect the rights, dignity, and health of all whose lives are diminished by bullying. SD2195, SD2192.

“The victim fears for his very existence, fears leaving his apartment, and waits, yearning for freedom.”---June Fleischmann, outreach worker

Thank you for your consideration.


Jerry Halberstadt

Coordinator, Stop Bullying Coalition
Commissioner appointed by Governor Baker, 2016-2017

Susan Bonner, Legislative Chair, Mass Union of Public Housing Tenants

Mary Margaret Moore, past Executive Director, the Independent Living Center of the North Shore and Cape Ann

For additional supporting material, please see

https://StopBullyingCoalition/ombuds and/or contact us for our "position paper."