Reasonable Accommodation Request

Sign "Face Masks Required" on Elevator Door and Lobby Entrance
Since sending this letter on November 5, when the COVID positivity rate in Peabody was 2.5%, it has risen to 5.34%, more than double. A new COVID variant, "omicron," has begun to spread worldwide; it is more infectious and may cause more severe disease. The positivity rate is a leading indicator, followed by a rise in infections, hospitalizations, and deaths. As Coordinator of the Stop Bullying Coalition, I am called on to suggest ideas and actions that aggrieved tenants can take to help themselves. For example, tenants in a subsidized apartment are angry because management makes promises but often fails to deliver, and they don't know how to get relief. They ask, "What can we do?" One of the first steps I recommend is to reach out to the landlord. Here, I am concerned about exposure to COVID. Usually, I would recommend that a tenant is better served by working with other tenants on issues that are of common concern, rather than alone. However, this is a matter directly affecting my health and well-being, and in this situation I have determined to rely on my rights: for reasonable accommodation and peaceful enjoyment. I will report on the outcome.

We and Our Leaders Can Control COVID

Buds on branches of red maple against blue sky
Excitement is in the air. It is spring, people are being vaccinated, and we all anticipate a speedy end to the crisis. But wait, there’s more. It will be weeks before everyone who is willing is vaccinated, and there are variants which the vaccine may not protect us from. We all need to continue taking every precaution for weeks to come. Together, we can survive the pandemic, and the governor should reconsider his policies on reopening and enforcement. Caution is most important for elderly people, including those living in public or subsidized housing, because we are the most vulnerable to the severe outcomes of COVID. “For the two week period prior to April 14, 2021, the average age of Massachusetts residents who have died from COVID-19 was 74 years old.”

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

Adventures With COVID-19 & Vaccination

Photo: Bonny Zeh's story begins with her shopping for supplies to make origami like her folded paper dog.
After I had COVID I was vaccinated. COVID-19 is no joke, and I only had a mild to moderate case of COVID. I had side effects from the vaccine—they aren’t that bad—COVID is worse, and I know the difference from personal experience. Photo: Bonny Zeh's story begins with her shopping for supplies to make origami like her folded paper dog.

Are We Safe Now?

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.

Stop COVID in Elderly Housing

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.