Confirm Action

Are you sure you wish to do this?

Confirm Cancel
Member Login

Posted: 10/30/2004 7:07:12 PM EDT


Tenant's success fighting crime prices her out of her home

By Jack Meyers
Saturday, October 30, 2004

For most of the 10 years she has lived in her three-bedroom apartment on Codman Park in Roxbury, Betty Smith has been fighting to keep the drug dealers off her street.

    Lately she's been winning.

    But her efforts to make her block safer have had the perverse effect of helping to price her out of her home.

    A few months ago, her landlord told Smith he was raising the rent from $825 a month to $1,600 a month. Smith is now afraid she'll have to leave the neighborhood she worked to make safer for her two boys, 17 and 12 years old, as well as two foster kids placed with her by the state.

    ``When I got here (in 1994), it was a dumping ground. I came into a war zone. People were shooting and ducking bullets,'' said Smith, 53, a Boston resident for three decades.

    She said she would sometimes talk to the young men dealing drugs on the block, telling them to go somewhere else. She also got the police to respond.

    ``It worked. It got so uncomfortable that they left,'' said Smith.

    Smith, working with tenant organizers at City Life/Vida Urbana, negotiated a partial reprieve with her landlord. She now pays $1,125 a month and can stay until February.

    ``Rents in Boston are out of control now. What are people going to do for housing? There's no middle ground'' between Section 8 housing vouchers and people who have the cash to buy a home, Smith said.

    Smith said she does not put the blame on her landlord. Wild price changes in the rental market overall can uproot neighbors and neighborhoods, she said.

    Mark Pedulla, the City Life tenant organizer who worked with her, said, ``She was . . . putting herself on the line to protect not only the children in her care but all the children on the street.''

    ``If we want people to improve their neighborhoods - join a school council, coach a sports team - we've got to protect them'' from the whipsaw effects of volatile real estate prices, Pedulla said.
Link Posted: 10/30/2004 7:09:32 PM EDT
The Landlord should freeze her rent and pocket the profits she helped generate on the other units
Link Posted: 10/30/2004 7:12:33 PM EDT
This is a great outcome, she gets to move to a crappy neighborhood and start all over again
Link Posted: 10/30/2004 7:15:41 PM EDT
So, who exactly owes her the difference between what she thinks is "fair" and the market value of the apartment? Life's a bitch. Charity is nice. I don't want anybody enforcing either one.
Link Posted: 10/30/2004 7:19:02 PM EDT
I want to know where people get the hair brained idea that they have a right to live in a particular area.

Right to residency quiz:

Do you own the place?

If yes, then stay.

If NO, then SHTFU and don't let the door hit yer ass on the way out.
Link Posted: 10/30/2004 7:32:30 PM EDT
If she did most of the work of cleaning up the neighborhood, then they do "owe" her something, not out of obligation, but out of gratitude
Link Posted: 10/30/2004 7:34:54 PM EDT
If I were her I'd make a big public stink about it and try to get the drug crowd to move back in.
Link Posted: 10/30/2004 7:41:20 PM EDT
Not to be cynical, but exactly how did she get a bunch of drug dealers to leave by her little lonesome?  By calling 911 every time she sees them out there?  I mean, can the exact cause of the decrease in crime be solely attributed to her vigilance?  If so, I think the city should pick up her tab, since it makes them look good.  If not, I don't really think she is due anything.  And, no, I don't think the paper that ran this story is presenting all the facts.  
Top Top