September 26, 2008
Yesterday, with the largest bank collapse and seizure in the history of the U.S. and a breakdown in talks on the federal government's $700 billion bailout plan, the national financial crisis hit home for the Esquivel family of Roslindale. The culmination of their two year struggle with predatory, sub-prime lending ended in a forceful, post-foreclosure, no-fault eviction.
Deutsche Bank, a German-owned mega-bank that engaged in predatory sub-prime mortgage lending, used cold shoulder tactics in an attempt to avoid declaring a loss on the property. Read more...
September 19, 2008
Host Meghna Chakrabarti interviews riders along the route, talks to the MBTA Director of Operations and Service Development and compares an MBTA bus to a loud, crowded and smelly box.
Said Lee, "I think the experience that an every day rider has on the bus hasn't changed. There are more people on the bus, but the overall quality of transit, the crowding, the drivers, these things have continued." Read more...
September 16, 2008
Today is Primary Day in Massachusetts. If you haven't gone to vote, it's not too late - polls close at 8 p.m. If you'd like to register to vote, come by ACE's office to pick up a voter registration form. You may also register online. To be able to vote in the November election, you must register to vote by Wednesday, October 15. Also, see your sample ballot and find your polling location by entering your address here. For more information about voting, see MassVOTE and Boston.com. Have a good Primary Day!
September 15, 2008
Two weeks ago, Paula Taylor was evicted from her foreclosed home in Roxbury by Bank of America. This happened despite her offer to pay rent until a new owner was found.
In July, Bank of America was unable to evict her, thanks to the help of rallying community members.
Since then, Paula, along with residents and political leaders, have been urging Bank of America to open dialogue on the matter, including during a rally held recently at the Dudley Square branch. Instead, the bank manager referred supporters to a public relations office and sent the police, a constable and a moving team to forcefully remove her.
A heavy police detail of roughly 15 to 20 officers arrived, including a special unit to cut through blockade chains at entrances to the house. Four people were then cuffed and arrested. Police then followed the crowd to the Bank of America Grove Hall branch where supporters passed out information about the bank's role in the foreclosure crisis. Read more...
Yesterday evening the Globe reported that General Manager Dan Grabauskas, under pressure from the Patrick administration, agreed to rescind the nine percent executive level pay raises he approved last week. Instead, employees making less than $70,000 will receive a three percent increase.
August 19, 2008
On August 12, Secretary of Transportation Bernard Cohen announced that the state's transportation agencies have agreed to pool their resources in an effort to help the MBTA and the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority. Like the T, the Pike is facing a severe budget deficit. While the T is planning a large fare increase in 2010, the Pike is currently deciding whether to raise tolls in January. It's unclear what Secretary Cohen's effort will yield at this point. The Globe reports that Cohen is considering suggestions from agency officials and will make those ideas public.
August 15, 2008
Congratulations to Roxbury Environmental Empowerment Project (REEP) Youth Organizers Andreya Jones and Ronneshia Bolden for their recent high school graduations!
Andreya joined REEP last summer and attended University High School. During her time with ACE, Andreya played a vital role in the anti-idling campaign and advocated for the new diesel bill. Read more...
August 12, 2008
Every Thursday afternoon the ACE office fills with the sounds of enthusiastic young people. They're participating in the weekly Teen Cafés, hosted by Roxbury Environmental Empowerment Project.
The Cafés, which draw an average of 25 teens, offer a space for youth to talk openly about issues that concern them. The agendas are driven by the interests of the youth present. Davel, a fifteen year old summer organizer with REEP, says the café discussions impact the young people who participate. "They're intense, complex and wild," he says, "The youth can talk about all the issues teens have to deal with, like pregnancy, violence and stereotypes. We talked about the N-word once and it was really deep." Read more...
August 6, 2008
ACE interns Amara, Becky, Brian, Cathy, Kathleen, and Sadie got a taste of farming in the city last Thursday afternoon as volunteers at the ReVision House Urban Farm in Dorchester. The interns were put to task spreading fertilizer around collard greens and cauliflower and weeding around bean plants. The farm is tucked away on Fabyan Street in a residential area, hidden from the main traffic streets. Also included are two other sites nearby. All three sites together make up a total of one acre of "farmland."
The farm is truly an urban farm. It is situated on previously vacant lots, which held triple-decker apartment buildings before burning down in 1970. Furthermore, there are no full-service grocery centers within the Farm's zip code of 02124 – creating a "food desert." This poses a problem for the residents living in the area with limited access to transportation to the full service grocery stores located miles away. ReVision’s small farm is able to produce enough for a farm stand, farmer's market stands (with a Brookline farm) at the Milton Farmer's Market, and 75 CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) full-price and low-income shares in conjunction with Drumlin Farm. Finally, half of its produce goes to the 22 women currently staying in women's shelter ReVision House, located across the street, all for free. Read more...
August 1, 2008
ACE recently received an unsolicited email from Wal-Mart commending our work. It said that "REEP is a wonderful program" and that Wal-Mart appreciates the connections REEP makes between environmental sustainability and education. It's always rewarding when REEP is recognized, but the praise from Walmart is a bit puzzling as our mission and vision contradict Wal-Mart's business practices. We believe that sustainable neighborhoods involve fair wages, local ownership of businesses, and community investment - not discrimination, political strong-arming, and anti-unionism. Read more...
July 30, 2008
Yesterday, City Life/Vida Urbana and partners rallied at the State House in support of three bills that could help end the foreclosure crisis in Massachusetts. The three bills would place a temporary moratorium on foreclosures, require just cause for all evictions and require judicial review of foreclosures.
Supporters held up cardboard keys, representing the 30,000 homes in foreclosure across the Commonwealth. One key was painted black in memory of Carlene Balderrama, a Taunton woman who committed suicide when faced with foreclosure.
Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner, CLVU Tenant Organizer Soledad Lawrence, and Roxbury resident Paula Taylor, whose home was successfully defended from a post-foreclosure eviction all spoke in favor of the legislation. Ralliers then visited legislators and urged them to support the bills. They also presented lawmakers with a key as a reminder that many people are at risk of losing their homes. Read more...