ACE Blog

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.

Youth Pass pilot launch!

July 2, 2015

YAC alum Kasey Shen shares the organizing behind the Youth Pass.They said it couldn't be done. That it was too expensive. That they weren't ready and we needed to wait.

They've even ignored us, talked down to us, waited to see if we'd get tired and give up.

But youth are powerful. We persisted. We did everything they asked for and then some. We never stopped fighting.

And now we've won!

Yesterday, hundreds of young people across the Boston area were able to board the MBTA using the first-ever Youth Pass, as part of our Youth Pass pilot program.

We celebrated the program launch in Dudley Square with our Youth Affordabili(T) Coalition (YAC), city officials and the Secretary of Transportation. This comes after eight years of youth-led organizing for a more affordable and accessible public transit system.

Nicole Baltazar, Youth Affordabili(T) Coalition member and Youth Pass participant

July 1, 2015

Nicole at the Youth Pass pilot opening day celebrationI’m in the 11th grade in Malden High School. I transferred here last year, and prior to that I was living in Boston. I came to America in 2013 and went to Brighton High, and felt really happy because I received a Student Pass for free. I was really happy because I was able to go places and didn’t have to worry about the fare. I went to the Architecture, Construction, and Engineering (ACE) program at Wentworth and the MIT PRIMES circle, a college math class, and it was a great opportunity. When I was going to these programs I used the train and the bus and my pass helped me throughout the year.

When I transferred to Malden I was really surprised that I couldn’t get a Student Pass and had to pay the fares all the time. There was a time when I was sharing a pass with my mom and sometimes our schedules didn’t match up and it was really inconvenient. I got involved with MAACC, the Malden Asian American Community Coalition, and advocated for the Youth Pass in Malden.

I thought the Youth Pass was really great because students are going to pay $1 a day. For me, I ride the bus all the way to and from school. The Youth Pass pilot program is great for teenagers like me because we will save a lot of money and can spend money on other important things.

Shihua Wu, Youth Pass pilot participant

July 1, 2015

Shihua at the Youth Pass pilot opening day celebrationI live in Charlestown. I attend Boston Latin Academy and I’m going to be a rising senior. I’m 16 years old and I enjoy basketball and being involved with the community. I represent Charlestown as part of the Mayor’s Youth Council – I advocate for policy and programs. I’m a liaison, a bridge, between the mayor and Charlestown.

I first heard about the Youth Pass through an email about enrolling in this program. I use the T every single day, especially during the school year. I live in Charlestown and my school is in Dorchester. I take two buses and a train to get to school. Now that it’s summer, I will take the T to go to work and get home – I’ll be working at Fidelity Investments.

During the school year I had an M-7, a seven-day pass, that I used every single day, and a lot of my friends use the M-7. I would say that the majority of my friends rely on the MBTA. The M-7 only runs throughout the school year, so I’m glad I’ll have an alternative to the adult monthly pass. Since the Youth Pass is only $26, it gives me control – I won’t have to ask my parents for money.

Asia Fleming, REEP youth organizer, YAC member and Youth Pass pilot participant

July 1, 2015

Asia at the People's Climate March in 2014I’m from Roxbury, and when I was 12, my cousin Dakeira worked at ACE and I used to come to some of the events and member meetings with her. I had no idea what was going on – I just knew it was really fun. So when I got old enough, I became a member and participated in The City School’s Summer Leadership Program. Then I gave a speech, got elected as a Youth Organizer and I’ve been here for almost four years.

When I was a member, I worked on all of the campaigns. The asthma one was a big one – we went up to City Hall and wore breathing masks. The Youth Pass was a big one too – we went to the State House and held a die-in – that was the first really big rally I went to.

The Youth Pass is important to me because when I started REEP, I was just starting high school and I wasn’t getting a school bus to school anymore. I would have to pay for the MBTA, and at the time, I was putting $2.00 on every day to go to school and come home from school. That was two buses to school and two buses back – it was a lot of money.

Armando Barragan, Youth Affordabili(T) Coalition member and Youth Pass Working Group member

July 1, 2015

Armando at a YAC celebration in 2014For me, the Youth Pass is important because I’ve always used the MBTA to get to school, since middle school. Even though my middle school was in East Boston where I live, I still took the bus to get there, and at that time I didn’t get a Student Pass. So I would pay the student fare and that was money that I had to pay every single day that I went to school.

Since going to high school, I have to use more transportation – the train and the bus. Luckily, for high school, I did get a Student Pass. But if I didn’t, I definitely wouldn’t have gone to that school at all. There wouldn’t have even been a possibility for me to go because of all the money I would have spent just on transportation for four years. I would have ended up going to the high school in East Boston, which I didn’t want because I knew there were opportunities for me somewhere else to do the things that I actually wanted.

So a pass – being able to get on the train affordably – was the best thing for me. There are tons of other students who have similar experiences and use the MBTA every single day. A pass is really useful for them.

Work for transit justice with us!

June 17, 2015

Come work with TRU!Do you believe public transportation should be affordable? Want to improve the state of the MBTA? Come work with our T Riders Union (TRU)!

We are hiring a part-time organizer to work with members and bus riders to ensure that legislators invest in our public transit system and avoid disastrous proposals like eliminating the fare increase cap and bus-to-subway transfers.

Public transit is a public good - let's make sure it's accessible to transit-dependent folks. See the job description and apply by sending a resume and cover letter to Position is open until filled.

Youth Summit: Save the date

June 17, 2015

Art projects at last year's Youth SummitSave the date for this year's Youth Summit! Hosted by our Roxbury Environmental Empowerment Project (REEP), the gathering brings together hundreds of young people to learn, share and build power.

The day-long gathering is by youth, for youth, and includes interactive workshops, an open mic, arts and crafts, performances by local artists, free lunch and much more.

We're holding the summit on July 31. Contact Olmis for more information and stay tuned for details!