Urgent Need, Targeted Remedy
We, the elderly and disabled tenants of public and subsidized housing, need legislation to establish an independent ombuds office to protect us from bullying and mobbing and hold landlords accountable. The Attorney General has decreed that preventing harassment is the responsibility of the landlord, and failure to act is unlawful. However, there is no effective remedy available to targets of bullying and mobbing. The solution is an independent ombuds office with the power to receive reports, investigate and evaluate, resolve where possible, and with the authority to hold the landlord accountable before the law—this is essential to protect tenants from bullying and mobbing, and thus assure their rights.
Social Aggression, Bullying, and Mobbing
Pamela Goodwin, a tenant in subsidized housing in Greenfield, initiated and organized a panel presentation on social aggression, bullying, and mobbing that was held on Saturday, April 30, 2022 as part of the 51st annual spring convention of the Mass Union of Public Housing Tenants (MUPHT ) in Marlborough MA. Goodwin responded to a groundswell of concern among tenant leaders about bullying and mobbing. She knows that a legislative solution is not in sight, and that the existing systems do not provide relief to targets of bullying. She decided to enlist the experience of other tenants who, like herself, had tried to find their own solutions. Solutions can be found when tenants help each other and when management is helpful and responsive. Nevertheless, problems remain that require new legislation to create an ombuds office.
COVID Transmission in Essex County and Peabody, Massachusetts
May 21, 2023. Information about transmission and ongoing current infections in Essex County and Peabody, Massachusetts. Although elderly people are at very high risk, simple steps can provide good protection against transmission and infection. Especially when transmission levels are persistently high, your actions can protect you and everyone around you. And when you work together with your neighbors, family, and everyone you see, you can all be safer together. It's not hard: Vaccinate; boost; ventilate; mask; hand hygiene; avoid unmasked gatherings.
Protect Our Rights—Stop the Mobbing
What is mobbing? You will recognize it when tenants say, “They don’t belong here. Let’s get rid of them.” When a tenant group tries to evict people, where will it end? Do we really want to live like that?
The New "How to Avoid COVID"
UPDATED: July 29, 2022. This information is addressed primarily to tenants of public or subsidized housing for elderly and disabled persons. COVID is an infectious disease spread by the air we share with others. The best way to control disease and protect people from infection is to use public health measures, rather than only to depend on small groups or individuals to protect themselves. I present ideas that an individual or a housing community to use to reduce the chance of infection. The news about COVID has been alarming and the advice has been confusing. Here is my understanding of how I can stay safe. Remember, I can’t give medical advice. But I can read what experts are saying and select their soundest conclusions to share with you.
Assure Tenant Rights
We, tenants who live in public and subsidized housing, seek legislation to prevent the weakening or loss of rights that arises when public housing is put into private hands, and effective protection from bullying in public and subsidized housing. We should include all multi-family residential facilities under a single oversight agency, to assure that all citizens have all of their rights respected. Why should there be different rights depending on the landlord's source of income?
Public health in housing for elderly and disabled
Many of the management and community measures that will help to prevent and mitigate COVID are similar to those that can prevent or mitigate bullying in housing. In November, when the two-week positivity rate was 2.5%, I predicted a rapid rise in COVID and sought protective action by the landlord. Since then, while a wave of COVID has killed and sickened many and threatened to collapse the health care system, I have pressed for action. Four months later, while the wave is subsiding, I am still seeking an effective accommodation to protect my health (and that of all the tenants, staff, and visitors).
January Newsletter, Legislation & COVID
Stop Bullying and Mobbing, the ombuds office bill S1084 Do you want to stop bullying and mobbing in your housing? Use your power to influence legislators. They do listen when we speak up. We are making a push to support S1084 to create an ombuds office to protect elderly and disabled tenants in public and subsidized housing. And S900/H1407 will help landlords do a better job. S900 & S1084, are complementary, each provides a part of the solution. Right to Counsel (RTC) Two identical bills,S.874/H.1436, Senate and House, are designed to establish a pilot program to provide legal counsel to persons facing eviction. Having an attorney will level the playing field.
Reasonable Accommodation Request: Making it Stick
Update, January 13, 2022. The 14-day positivity rate for Peabody on January 13, 2021, was 21.74%, based on the period from December 26, 2021-January 8, 2021. The rate for Essex County was 25.78% Despite the fact that my landlord, Preservation of Affordable Housing, accepted my request for a reasonable accommodation is valid, they did not plan to do an effective accommodation. An effective intervention would be, for example, a zero-tolerance masking requirement that was actively policed and enforced. However, their own policy requires them to enforce the posted masking policy, which to my knowledge, they have not done. After the December 22 decision of the Peabody Board of Health to require indoor masking, the attorney for Preservation of Affordable Housing wrote yet another letter urging people to be careful. No effective action has been taken.
Advocacy Example: Reasonable Accommodation Request
Update, December 9, 2021. The 14-day positivity rate for Peabody, reported on December 9, 2021 is 6.48%, covering the period from November 21 through December 4, 2021. This represents an increase of 2.6 times over the rate when I first wrote to my landlord seeking a reasonable accommodation to require enforcement of their own rule, to require masking of all persons in the public areas of the apartment building. On December 1, I received material from the attorney representing my landlord, POAH, and Fairweather Apartments. The letter was dated 15 November. The letter grants my request of reasonable accommodation, i.e., to require indoor masking to protect against COVID. But they propose to continue the same, previously ineffective actions. What should I do?