Boston Residents Protest Impending Evictions

Boston Residents Protest Impending Evictions


May 2017

COURTESY OF CITY LIFE/VIDA URBANACOURTESY OF CITY LIFE/VIDA URBANA More than 100 people marched through Boston’s Egleston Square neighborhood April 22 to protest the impending eviction of several immigrant Latino families facing rent increases averaging $500 a month from their new landlord. City Realty Group, which is planning to construct two luxury buildings about 10 blocks away, bought the triple-decker apartment building at 26 School St. last year. 

“For me the idea of paying $500 more was very stressful, since I am a single mother and my daughter is studying,” tenant Rita Paul, who works six days a week as an office cleaner, said in Spanish. “To be able to pay that, I would have to work an additional 55 hours a month, and by earning more, I would have to pay more for health insurance, and to pay the insurance, I would need to increase my workload 20 more hours a week.”

City Life/Vida Urbana, a housing-justice organization in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood, helped the tenants form an association to bargain collectively with the landlord, but City Realty Group rejected their proposal for increases averaging $250. It gave two tenants eviction notices earlier this spring.

Boston has not had rent control since a statewide referendum prohibited it in 1994. Egleston, the easternmost part of increasingly gentrified Jamaica Plain and abutting mostly black Roxbury, is feeling the pressure. Under the city’s “Plan JP/Rox,” a rezoning of the two neighborhoods approved in March, 70 percent of the housing to be built would be market-rate, with half the “affordable” apartments slated for households making over $50,000 a year. Washington Street, Egleston’s main street, is now “flooding with development proposals,” march organizers said. City Realty Group is planning two buildings there, one condos and another where rents are expected to range from $3,500 to $4,000 a month.

Alex Ponte-Capellan, a City Life/Vida Urbana organizer, told the crowd that City Realty Group is one of several Boston landlords whose business model is buying up moderately priced buildings and then either raising the rent drastically or evicting tenants without cause.

“We recognize this as an epidemic. Poor people are having to leave,” he said. If the campaign to stop the Egleston evictions fails, he added, “we’re going to a see a domino effect.”