Editorial: Reconciliation at Apple Village?

EDITORIAL: Reconciliation at Apple Village?

A cookout at Apple Village that was intended to bring people together for reconciliation instead revealed discord, stress, and pain.

Two opposed groups of tenants accuse each other of bullying and many interpret everything from a perspective of mistrust, fear, anger, and expectation of malice. One of the groups is trying to stop the conflict and invited all residents to a cookout. Neighbors do not trust neighbors and some do not trust the management. The situation demonstrates hostile environment harassment.

“Hostile environment harassment” is unwelcome conduct creating a situation that makes it difficult or impossible for victims to have the peaceful enjoyment of their residency. Hostile environment harassment severely impacts the whole community as well as individual targets. Under current laws and regulations, the landlord is responsible for assuring the right of all tenants to live in peace and to prevent harassment.

We see similar situations in many public and subsidized housing communities. Is this so very different from the strife that infects our politics and public discourse, where each accuses "the other" of bad faith, people live in different realities with different facts, and the fabric of community has frayed?

Only if we understand the dynamics of a social system that is harmful to all involved, can we apply an effective remedy. Hostile environment harassment affects the whole community and is a systemic problem.

We need ways for people to resolve differences without resorting to aggression—physical, emotional, bullying, or mobbing. We need remedies at the level of policy and legislation: first to stop hostile environment harassment, and then to build positive relations.

We need an independent resource or agency to investigate and intervene as necessary to help restore a peaceful community.

It is not my role to adjudicate between the landlord/manager and the tenants or between the two groups of residents. I seek to demonstrate the need for change, including through legislation. Senator Joan Lovely and Representatives Sally Kerans and Kevin Honan have presented bills that together may enable people to live in peace.

Please contact your state legislators and encourage them to pass those bills: S887/H1329 & H3868—JH