The New "How to Avoid COVID"

UPDATED: January 16, 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 the soundest conclusions to share with you. 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%

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

Sign "Face Masks Required" on Elevator Door and Lobby Entrance
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?

Bullying Legislation To Address Public Housing Crisis

At last, a solid, well-researched, in depth article about major issues in public housing, including bullying, has been published by WickedLocal. The lead article by WickedLocal reporter, Willam J. Dowd, provides an excellent review of the issues around bullying, with interviews and quotes from some of the key players. Against this background, Dowd notes the work of the Stop Bullying Coalition to advance a strong ombuds bill to protect tenants of public and subsidized housing from bullying.

Advocacy on Bullying

Bullying attacks our dignity. Pamela Goodwin, one of our most dedicated activists, and I have been participating in the work of the Dignity Alliance (DAM). Their major focus has been on frail elders and disabled persons living in nursing homes and other institutional settings, and those living independently in the community. We need to prepare for Beacon Hill hearings on bullying bills. And we need information about bullying among children of tenants.

Guest Article: From PETRA to RAD—The Path to Converting 140,000 Public Housing Units

Colorful, semi-abstract depiction of apartment buildings
More than $10 billion in private financing has been invested in public housing thanks to the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program. But housing advocates say it comes at a cost, and there still isn’t enough oversight of the program. As Beacon Hill considers legislation to assure the renovation and continuation of public housing, including through public-private partnerships, we are concerned about the rights of tenants under private developers. Lillian M. Ortiz provides us with a history of privatization that must inform our efforts going forward. We are proud to publish this guest article by Lillian M. Ortiz, originally published in Shelterforce, the voice of community development. Lillian M. Ortiz is the Managing Editor of Shelterforce magazine. Shelterforce is an independent publication that serves (and sometimes challenges) community development practitioners across the United States.

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Doom or hope?

If we act to prevent the surge which has already begun, there is hope. If we deny the real danger, we will be doomed. COVID doesn't despair or hope, it mutates, multiplies, and has the advantage. To survive, we should use the vaccine in a strategic way, reduce indoor gatherings, and enforce mandated masking.

Governor Baker, Here's How to Mitigate & Prevent COVID in Housing

Governor Baker and Jerry Halberstadt join against hatred of Americans of Asian descent in Peabody Square on March 27
I was proud to stand with you—and many friends, neighbors, and elected officials—against hatred of Americans of Asian descent in Peabody Square on March 27. At your invitation, I am writing to share ideas for mitigation and prevention of COVID-19 in housing for elderly and disabled persons