One unmasked tenant sitting with others in an entrance lobby said,
“Oh, isn't it great that the pandemic is almost over, that’s why we can hang out without masks.”
This conversation took place in the lobby of an apartment building of 112 units in Salem public housing for the elderly and disabled, where at least 9 tenants have current or recent cases of COVID, including one recent COVID death—a rate of 8% infections.
January 5, 2021
To the Honorable Chairs of the Joint Committee on Covid-19 and Emergency Preparedness and Management: Senator Joanne M. Comerford & Representative William Driscoll, Jr.
Dear Senator Comerford and Representative Driscoll,
Today, too many people are getting COVID and dying in what should be a safe haven—public and subsidized housing for the elderly and disabled. These tragedies are largely preventable.
We want the legislature to create laws that will guide the Governor and the Department of Public Health to take new steps to reduce the spread of COVID, and better protect citizens. We can prevent COVID from spreading if we assure compliance by enforcing the public health mandates. To address the public health threat we must know where people are infected and dying.
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
Update on our legislative advocacy
Our legislative partners, including Representative Tom Walsh and Senator Joan Lovely, have determined that the first step is to bring our concerns to the newly formed Joint Standing Committee on COVID-19 and Emergency Preparedness and Management. That body will be tasked with oversight of the state’s pandemic response and take on an advisory role for the Legislature. It will also weigh broader issues of disaster preparedness, emergency management and communication.
“I live in an apartment building with 55 units, and at last estimate, 12 people are sick with COVID-19, and one is on a ventilator in hospital. I am now in my 6th day of quarantine with the virus and it hasn’t been fun,” wrote one of us, Lynn Costello, a tenant in Lowell Public Housing for elderly and disabled persons, early in December, 2020.
In February, 2021, Lynn is well but she notes that 3 tenants were seriously ill and hospitalized with COVID, and two of them have died.
To save lives, we need answers now
What is the best way to protect elderly and disabled tenants of public and subsidized housing from COVID-19? We can find answers where someone has developed a practical, effective solution.
Chelsea Housing Authority
Let’s consider the approach of the Chelsea Housing Authority (CHA) as a case in point. Everything they do seems to flow from the motto of Paul Nowicki, Director of Operations, “We’re here to help.”