Community norms can either promote a healthy, caring community or lead to a toxic community that is harmful. In public and subsidized housing for the elderly and disabled, failure to control bullying and mobbing (group bullying) creates a toxic community, while failing to prevent transmission of COVID-19 can create a deadly situation.
Pamela Goodwin, a 69-year-old woman living in public housing has challenged what she sees as poor management and disregard of the rights of tenants at her housing development at the housing authority in Upton Massachusetts. Goodwin has argued that the housing is dangerous for elderly persons as well as those with disabilities because it is not ADA compliant with regard to the stairs at each apartment because the entrances lack ramps or handrails, and the development lacks adequate parking, with limited parking for persons with disability. Instead of dealing with those issues, members of the housing authority and the manager have portrayed Goodwin as a danger to the community.
Janice Harper was a successful anthropologist, an assistant professor teaching and doing research at the University of Tennessee, when her promising career was ended by mobbing. She had established herself as an expert on health and environment and initiated a graduate program in Human Rights. When her own rights were threatened at work, she reported concerns about an employee’s conduct toward her and other women. Instead of receiving a fair hearing and protection, she was mobbed by university administrators and junior faculty, even including her friends and colleagues.