ACE Blog

Improving MBTA service

September 24, 2015

Discussing how to improve MBTA service In August, our T Riders Union (TRU) and Youth Affordabili(T) Coalition (YAC) met with MBTA officials to discuss improvements as the agency looks to update its Service Planning Policy. The policy guides the rules and priorities for the T's decision-making when it comes to service and we wanted to make sure the new version includes concerns from transit-dependent riders.

Members shared experiences as MBTA riders, including our most difficult trips and how they could be improved. We discussed what it means to make public transportation accessible for everyone and ways to establish more reliable, on-time and frequent service.

Thank you members for coming and sharing your stories and ideas! Stay tuned for a draft version of the new policy later this year and more opportunities to provide input.

Strengthening EJ policy in Massachusetts

September 24, 2015

In August, ACE members and supporters gathered to provide input to Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) on their draft Environmental Justice Policy. We raised significant concerns with the draft and shared ideas to strengthen it in the next round of revisions.

Sharing comments with the EEA Developing an EJ policy is one of the requirements of the Executive Order on Environmental Justice - a landmark order we secured last November - to protect the health, safety and environment of the most vulnerable residents of the Commonwealth. The EEA is the first state agency to draft an EJ policy and we look forward to working with MassDOT, Housing and Economic Development, and others to create inclusive and effective policies.

The EEA will accept comments at a final listening session in Brockton. Comments may also be submitted by mail or online by October 9.

Thank you to everyone who came to share your ideas! We were thrilled to see long-time members and new supporters working together to shape the direction of EJ policy in Massachusetts. Stay tuned for future opportunities to get involved.

We have the #Right2Remain

September 24, 2015

As a part of Right to the City (RTC) - Boston, we are organizing a citywide assembly on Saturday, October 3 on our #Right2Remain. RTC member groups have been working to keep housing affordable, create a just cause eviction policy and prevent displacement. Now, it's time for Boston's communities of color and working class neighborhoods to come together to build power and take collective action!

Join us for the #Right2Remain Boston Assembly

The event includes a morning plenary to discuss housing, zoning, jobs, land, and transit policies, and an opportunity to share your thoughts on the citywide displacement crisis with city council candidates. The assembly will culminate with a massive direct action.

Please register if you plan on attending. Childcare will be provided.

Saturday, October 3, 2015
9:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Vietnamese American Community Center (VACC)
42 Charles Street
Dorchester, MA 02122

Join us to remain, reclaim and rebuild our communities!

Hundreds attend 19th annual Youth Summit

August 19, 2015

Sharing at a workshop during the afternoon session In July, hundreds of youth in the Boston area came together at our 19th annual Youth Summit to build power for youth and environmental justice. The theme of this year's summit was creating a Safe Zone where young people could escape from violence and other threats we face in our neighborhoods.

"People liked and understood the theme," said REEP Youth Organizer Asia Fleming. "Energy was high and it was a good way for youth to meet other youth."

We held workshops on gentrification and displacement, capitalism, body image, the prison industrial complex, police brutality, sexism in video games and more. Youth celebrated talents in our open mic by singing, reading poetry and dancing.

Thank you for coming out to learn, share, perform, make art and brainstorm changes we can create in our communities. Special thanks to our partners at Bikes Not Bombs, Chinese Youth Initiative, The City School and Youth Against Mass Incarceration for leading outstanding workshops. We look forward to continuing to work with you!

Discussing neighborhood changes in Roxbury

August 19, 2015 Discussing neighborhood changes at Hyjack dah Hood

In June, members and residents joined us at Hyjack dah Hood to talk about gentrification and displacement in our neighborhood over food, games, art projects and workshops. We discussed the impacts of structural racism on land control, food justice, and public transportation, and addressed changes we want to see in Roxbury.

We also talked about parts of our community we want to bring back - including some long-time residents' memories of growing apples and pears in Roxbury - and parts of our neighborhood and culture we want to preserve as widespread development brings rapid changes.

Thank you to Bikes Not Bombs, Right to the City - Boston, and Youth Against Mass Incarceration for partnering with us!

REEP organized this multigenerational gathering as part of our campaign to turn the tide against gentrification and displacement in our neighborhood. Stay tuned for ways to get involved!

Fighting gentrification and displacement

August 19, 2015 Ferdinand building, 2012-2015

As Roxbury experiences increasing development and rising housing costs, we are pushing back on a major issue facing EJ communities here and across the country: gentrification and displacement.

Over the past year, we have been speaking with residents to identify trends and concerns in the neighborhood, and doorknocked in Dudley to survey the impacts of gentrification.

In April, we partnered in Roxbury Stand Against Gentrification, a community forum where residents shared stories and organizing strategies. In June, we held Hyjack dah Hood in Dudley Square to explore residents' vision for a just future. With Right to the City's #Right2Remain campaign, we are working for a Just Cause Eviction Policy that will offer basic protection to renters, who make up the majority of Boston residents.

Major development projects are transforming Dudley Square. With the Ferdinand building redeveloped for the school department, the expansion of the Tropical Foods grocery store, the demolition of Bartlett Yard in preparation for mixed-income housing and a proposed 25-story tower with market-rate units, among others, hundreds more people will be living and working here.

Save the date: ACE's Annual Meeting

August 19, 2015 Enjoying our 2014 Annual Meeting

Be a part of shaping ACE's work! Join us at our Annual Meeting on Thursday, October 29. We'll elect new Board members, share our plan and goals for the next year, and celebrate our recent victories.

Interested in being on the Board (or know people who would be)? Nominations are due August 21! Contact us to learn more and receive a nomination form.

Dinner will be served. Translation and childcare available with advance request.

Thursday, October 29, 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Unitarian Universalist First Church of Roxbury (White Church)
10 Putnam Street
Roxbury, MA 02119

Stabilizing our communities through the #Right2Remain

July 30, 2015

ACE members have been working to stabilize our communities with a measure to reduce exploitative evictions. As part of the #Right2Remain campaign with Right to the City Boston, we are organizing for a Just Cause Eviction policy to stop displacement by protecting vulnerable renters. Given increasing housing costs and stagnant wages, a growing number of residents in Roxbury and across Boston are at risk of being pushed out of our communities. But we have a right to remain in our neighborhoods—where we’ve organized, grown roots, raised families and worked to improve conditions for years.

Over 67 percent of Boston residents are renters and susceptible to rising rents—about half are rent-burdened or pay more than 30 percent of their income on rent. Currently, unless a resident lives in subsidized housing, landlords can kick tenants out through “no-fault” evictions—meaning they do not need to provide a reason. Landlords can also raise rents dramatically, including doubling or tripling the price from year to year. Long-time residents, especially in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods like Dudley Square, are being forced out of homes and into an expensive rental market that offers few options for low and moderate-income people.

Under our proposed Just Cause policy, landlords with medium to large holdings in Boston have to provide a reason for eviction like failure to pay rent, property damage or breaking the terms of a lease. This measure is intended to minimize the number of no-fault evictions, used frequently by corporate property owners to remove tenants who have done nothing wrong. Additionally, if faced with a significant rent increase, tenants may be able to request non-binding mediation with their landlords and a third party, with the goal of reaching an agreement to remain in the home. The policy seeks to protect low-income residents and households with seniors, disabled people and children. Coalition partners are also exploring ways to support landlords who commit to keeping their rents stable.

Summer staff welcomes and send-offs

July 30, 2015  Divya Khandke, Gabrielle McElrath, Asia Fleming, Dave Jenkins, Cristal Martinez, Staci Rubin, and Ethan Severance.

We’re excited to be working with a great crew of interns this summer! Divya Khandke is organizing with members as we explore the impacts of gentrification on Roxbury. Ethan Severance is supporting our legal services program, and Gabrielle McElrath is a returning intern working in development. We’re also sending off two of our long-time staff, Staci Rubin and Dave Jenkins, as they transition to new opportunities.

We’re deeply thankful to Staci and Dave for their incredible work—for instance, playing key roles in the campaigns for an Executive Order on Environmental Justice, our Diesel Emissions Reduction Ordinance and the Youth Pass pilot program—and look forward to building together in new ways as they remain part of our community.

And of course, a huge congratulations to Youth Organizers Asia Fleming and Cristal Martinez who graduated this spring and will be going to college in the fall! Asia and Cristal’s work has been crucial to REEP’s leadership and victories—like expanding our network of guerrilla gardens—and while we’ll miss seeing them daily, they’ll continue to support young people and provide guidance as REEP alums.

REEP Youth Summit this Friday!

July 30, 2015 Enjoying a workshop at last year's Youth Summit

Calling all youth! Join REEP at our 19th annual Youth Summit on Friday, July 31, to learn, share and build power. The summit is by youth, for youth, and will include interactive workshops, an open mic, arts and crafts, performances by local artists, food and snacks, and much more. Workshops by Bikes Not Bombs, Youth Against Mass Incarceration/Get Hip, Chinese Youth Initiative, The City School and others will cover topics from organizing strategy and theory to fighting racism, classism, sexism and homophobia.

This year, the summit will focus on violence and other threats youth face in our neighborhoods.

We will explore how to build meaningful alternatives to create a safer environment for young people in our communities and beyond.