February 2, 2016
On January 15, ACE members and neighbors rallied against gentrification and displacement in Dudley Square at a protest organized by City Life/Vida Urbana, one of our partners in Right to the City - Boston (RTCB).
Residents of 9-15 Ruggles Street, across the street from ACE's office, are facing eviction from real estate and management groups that are profiting from predatory rent hikes. The Mayo Group and Advanced Property Management (APM) are renovating the units to rent at much higher prices, pushing out families who are willing to negotiate a reasonable rent increase but can't afford to pay hundreds more.
Building residents and supporters shared stories of no-fault evictions in Boston's low-income neighborhoods, dramatic rent increases and landlords clearing buildings for higher-income renters.
"I've been in this building here for 16 years. I've been a good tenant, I've paid my rent," said Felicha, a Ruggles Street resident threatened with eviction who has lived in Roxbury for 49 years. "This is my home - this is where I grew up."
Her concerns are reflected in some disturbing trends: The median rent for a two-bedroom in Roxbury has increased nearly 30 percent in three years, the median rent for a one-bedroom in the city reached $2,300 and Boston was ranked first in the nation for income inequality.
"I just don't think it's fair. It's happening to me tonight, but it could be any one of y'all tomorrow," said Felicha. "I'm going to fight to the end."
As part of RTCB, we're working for a Just Cause Eviction policy to protect tenants by requiring corporate and large landlords to give a legal reason for eviction and provide mediation with a third party to discuss increases over five percent.
In 2015, RTCB joined Right to the City Alliance groups in six other major US cities in holding a renter assembly to build support for Just Cause Eviction and other housing justice measures. We've won support from several city councilors and the attention of Mayor Marty Walsh, who is considering tax breaks for landlords renting units at reasonable prices. He also recently announced that Dudley Square is one of two new city planning locations, making this a crucial moment to develop an equitable vision for the future of our neighborhood.
This year, we are continuing to fight for a Just Cause Eviction policy and organize residents in Dudley Square for our #Right2Remain. Stay tuned for more potential actions to prevent the displacement of our neighbors on Ruggles Street and be sure to check out Right to the City Alliance's webinar series on national housing justice issues.