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Sandra Larson

Stories by Sandra

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Getting a jump on financial literacy

Bank Day educates teen workers to take charge of their money

Hundreds of Boston area young people streamed into the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center on July 27 for the city’s first-ever Youth Bank Day, an event that brought teens face-to-face with representatives from financial institutions and organizations that help navigate the hurdles of getting into and financing college.

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Design standards set for new Garrison Trotter housing

The city of Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development and community members from Roxbury’s Garrison Trotter Neighborhood Association have forged a set of design principles to guide residential development on some city-owned vacant land parcels. As part of a new Neighborhood Homes Initiative, the DND plans to offer reduced land pricing and subsidy funding to spur the creation of home ownership opportunities affordable to a range of income levels.

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Shopping while black?

J.P. liquor store staff finger UMass prof. as perp in cognac heist

Robert Johnson, chairman of Africana Studies at UMass Boston, was falsely identified as the thief who made off with 20 bottles of cognac from a Jamaica Plain liquor store earlier this year and taken to the Area E police station for questioning. Johnson says he bears little resemblance to the suspect depicted in grainy stills from a surveillance video and says he is considered filing a complaint with the Mass. Commission Against Discrimination.

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ReadBoston Storymobile starts up summer program

Over the coming weeks, more than 400 Read Boston events will be held in 80 locations around the city, including neighborhood parks, community centers, summer camps and library branches.

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HUD Secretary Castro attends opening of HUD-funded Quincy Heights

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro joined Mayor Martin Walsh on July 7 to celebrate the official ribbon-cutting for Quincy Heights, an affordable housing complex made possible in part by a $20.5 million HUD Choice Neighborhoods Initiative Grant awarded in 2011.

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Minority transit officials convene in Boston

US Transportation Secretary Foxx delivers keynote at conference

Hundreds of leaders in transportation from across the nation came together in Boston this week for the 44th Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) national meeting and training event.

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1852 Douglass speech still resonates

Annual public reading draws hundreds

In Boston last week, two days before July 2, a public reading of the famous speech was held on the Boston Common. Readers lined up at a microphone set up near the State House and stepped up to read a paragraph each, 53 in all.

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Dudley Street developer agrees to affordability, diversity standards

A for-profit developer planning to transform a former police station at 409 Dudley Street in Roxbury into nine residential units has agreed to a set of new voluntary guidelines for affordability, workforce diversity and neighborhood improvements.

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Transit cost relief for Boston-area youth

Youth Pass pilot program serves ages 12-21 in 4 cities

Boston area youth transit activists joined city and state officials at Dudley Station July 1 to celebrate the much-anticipated launch of the MBTA Youth Pass. The one-year pilot pass program will sharply reduce the cost of bus and subway travel for 1,500 young people ages 12 to 21 in Boston, Chelsea, Malden and Somerville.

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Elders feel effects of housing prices

Some safe, others vulnerable as gentrification progresses

For older residents in Jamaica Plain and Roxbury, experiences and feelings vary as housing prices rise and their neighborhoods change around them. Some are vulnerable to displacement, while others have found stable, affordable housing. Longtime homeowners have the luxury of contemplating whether to sell, some happy for the significant financial opportunity but hesitant to push a neighborhood shift that often results in fewer people of color.

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Boston rents put squeeze on city elderly

S. End, Chinatown, hard hit as luxury units displace affordable apartments

As buildings change hands and rents increase, elderly renters and homeowners are feeling pressue in Roxbury, the South End, Chinatown and other neighborhoods in various stages of gentrification.

When an elder loses a home

Financial abuse affects whole families

Cases of elder financial abuse often present a messy trail of poor decisions, declining cognitive ability, aggressive or unscrupulous lenders and self-serving family members. But the results can be stark: lost dreams, financial ruin and even homelessness for elders or their heirs. And the loss of a long-held home not only curtails a family’s economic rise, but can fray the cultural fabric of a neighborhood.

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For older homeowners, it’s ‘borrower beware’

Reverse mortgages, refinance schemes often put seniors at risk

Mortgage companies are aggressively marketing reverse mortgages to seniors, but advocates warn that the refinancing scheme isn’t for everyone.

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BHA readying RFP for Bunker Hill redevelopment

The Boston Housing Authority has moved a step closer to tapping private development dollars in the face of public funding gaps that make it difficult to operate and improve its aging housing stock. In a public meeting May 28 at Charlestown High School, BHA Director Bill McGonagle outlined the agency’s plan to issue a Request for Proposals to transform the nearby Bunker Hill development into an expanded, mixed-income complex.

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For senior homeowners, repair costs loom large

Aging housing stock and fixed incomes leave Boston seniors vulnerable

Traditional wisdom says home ownership provides economic security in old age, but as the senior population swells, repair costs rise and more people enter retirement saddled by debt, many elders find themselves “house-rich but cash-poor,” unable to keep up with repairs or adapt the home to be safe for frailer bodies.

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Expert describes toll of family homelessness

Mental health, brain development suffer

Homelessness-related stress and trauma plays a role in poor maternal health and poor parenting, which then affects child development, said Carmela DeCandia, who is co-author of a recent report on family homelessness. Ninety-three percent of homeless mothers have a history of trauma. Thirty-six percent are suffering some sort of post-traumatic stress disorder — triple the incidence of PTSD in the general population of women. These conditions are often factors in substance abuse and depression.

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Local AARP honors ‘nanas’ raising grandkids

A group of lucky Grove Hall children were served an elegant afternoon tea on Saturday. Wearing their best dresses or jackets and ties, they sat at beautifully-set tables at Boston Public Library’s Grove Hall branch and enjoyed such delicacies as mini scones with lemon curd, blueberry muffins, fruit kabobs, and mini sandwiches of grilled cheese or jam-and-Fluff. They sipped tea or cocoa from delicate floral-patterned china tea cups

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City floats latest Cass Blvd. plan at community meeting

New bus lanes, street widening dropped; community still skeptical of plans

The Boston Transportation Department last week unveiled its latest revision of Melnea Cass Boulevard redesign plans, reviving a process stalled by community resistance at several stages over the past three-and-a-half years. The new plan no longer includes the bus rapid transit lanes that were a key part of earlier versions.

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Mayors talk inequality, financial empowerment at UMass Boston forum

Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the mayors of three other large U.S. cities shared a stage at UMass Boston Sunday to discuss financial empowerment strategies that help cities address increasing income inequality and persistent poverty.

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City pursues improvements for elderly residents

Mayor Martin Walsh and the city’s Elderly Commission have launched an Age-Friendly Boston initiative with the aim of making Boston a place that supports senior citizens in continuing to lead productive, safe and healthy lives.

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Mixed reactions to Egleston Square proposal

Some wary of height, parking for 76-unit project

Community members crowded into a meeting room at Brookside Community Health Center last week to hear details and offer comments on a market-rate residential/retail development proposed for 3200 Washington Street in Egleston Square.

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BPL opens new teen, children’s spaces

Boston Public Library on Feb. 21 unveiled the renovated second floor of its Central Branch’s Johnson Building, featuring dazzling new spaces for children, tweens, teens and adults.

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Transit activists hopeful MBTA shut downs will spur investment in system

In the aftermath of the historic January and February snowstorms in Boston that caused transit shutdowns, stuck trains, borrowed shuttle buses and frustrating delays at frigid platforms, the MBTA announced it could be another 30 days before full service resumes on its rail lines.

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Snow piles, cancellations - and good deeds

After multiple storms piled more than 90 inches of snow on Boston from mid-January to mid-February — and with more snow expected this week — the city is a mess, with clogged streets and sidewalks, drift-buried cars, countless cancellations, tempers wearing thin and few places to put snow even where shovels and plows attempted to keep up.

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Restored Bolling Building ready for BPS move-in

Ground floor retail still to come to former Ferdinand’s Building

After three years of painstaking restoration and new construction, the former Ferdinand building, now the Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building, is days away from opening as the new Boston Public Schools headquarters.

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Developers advancing market-rate housing development in Egleston Square

Jamaica Plain neighborhood and economic development groups are reviewing a proposed Egleston Square development that will bring 76 residential units and more than 5,000 feet of ground-floor retail space to the site of a former plumbing and heating supply company and a still-operating auto repair shop.

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Walsh, committee members tout potential of Olympics bid

Promises to protect city against cost overruns

The organizers of Boston’s bid for the 2024 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games, along with Mayor Martin Walsh, fielded questions last week from the public on funding, cleanup, potential venues, transportation, and most of all, a persistent sense that the process has not been open and inclusive of Boston residents. Despite bitter cold, the meeting drew some 350 people who filled a lecture hall at Suffolk University Law School and spilled over into a second room to watch the meeting on a video feed.

BRA report touts reforms

Agency responds to audit findings

Accountability and transparency are the new stated goals at the Boston Redevelopment Authority,according to a new year-in report issued by Mayor Martin Walsh and BRA DirectorBrian Golden last month.

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Chinatown group forms community land trust to fight gentrification

A group of community residents and advocates in Boston’s Chinatown have formed the city’s first new community land trust in over 25 years in an effort to preserve affordable housing in the neighborhood in the face of increasing development pressure.

Questions linger on Boston’s bid to host Olympics

Activists, elected officials call for more transparency

Even after a public presentation by Boston 2024, the private group organizing Boston’s bid to host the 2024 Olympics Summer Games, not everyone is convinced the process is sufficiently transparent.

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Northeastern University preps minority- and women-owned businesses for contracts

Northeastern University is launching a new initiative to help local and minority-owned and women-owned businesses build their capacity to win contracts from Northeastern and other large institutions.

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Community mulls pros, cons of bid for olympics

Roxbury residents wary of Franklin Park use

The United States Olympic Committee’s announcement Jan. 8 that Boston will be its sole U.S. contender for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games — and that Franklin Park in Roxbury could be tapped as an event venue — has created a local flurry of fears, hopes, and most of all, questions.

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Officers address homicide, race, community policing at Rox meeting

Mothers of murder victims seek improvements in relations with Homicide cops

Boston Police Department Superintendent-in-Chief William Gross and Deputy Superintendent John Brown spoke Jan. 10 to a gathering of people who have lost loved ones to homicide in communities of color. The event, held at Roxbury’s Bethel Baptist Church, was organized by the Women Survivors of Homicide movement.

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Search for school superintendent nearing home stretch

Finalists to be introduced in February forums

At a public forum held this week by the Superintendent Search Committee, attendees learned that some 70 people have applied for the Boston job, filled by interim Superintendent John McDonough since Carol R. Johnson’s retirement in 2013. Forum moderator Bob Gittens explained that this large applicant pool has been reviewed and narrowed with the help of the executive search firm Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates. A winnowed-down group of applicants will be interviewed by the Search Committee in the next few weeks, and by early February, three final candidates will be referred to the School Committee and Mayor Martin Walsh.

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Bike entrepreneur, partners propose Dorchester bike shop/cafe

A long-abandoned former public bath house near Uphams Corner available for redevelopment has sparked the interest of four proposers, among them Dorchester native and self-styled bicycle repair entrepreneur Noah Hicks.

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Good jobs topic dominates Oversight Committee meeting

With a number of major Roxbury development projects poised to advance this year, calls are growing ever louder for the projects to bring good jobs and community benefits.

Tax prep centers help residents with Earned Income Tax Credit

Every year, many lower- and moderate-income Bostonians miss out on what could be a substantial benefit: the Earned Income Tax Credit.

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Summit examines Patrick administration criminal justice reforms

A summit last week highlighted Governor Deval Patrick’s record of criminal justice reforms and provided a forum for conversations on best practices for prisoner re-entry and the use of data to support and sustain reforms.

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Airport cleaners protest health, safety problems

Logan airport service workers along with service union representatives and other supporters rallied Dec. 17 to protest continuing hazardous and unsanitary working conditions for employees of ReadyJet, a cleaning contractor used locally by several airlines.

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Opening soon: Dudley Square’s Bolling Building features wealth of architectural details

When the long-dormant former Ferdinand’s furniture store reawakens as the Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building next month, Dudley Square will have a gleaming new centerpiece. Set in motion in 2011 by former Mayor Thomas Menino, the redevelopment promises to grace Boston’s geographic center with a sophisticated exterior that knits together historic and contemporary architecture, an airy modern interior and a sixth-floor community space and roof deck with sweeping city views available to Boston School Department employees, visitors and the public.

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Program puts BPS students on path to Boston teaching jobs

Thirty-six Boston high school students are starting on a seven-year path through high school and college and into teaching careers, thanks to a new Boston Public Schools program aimed at developing a more diverse next generation of teachers.

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Hundreds attend local Brother’s Keeper summit

Mayor Martin Walsh welcomed some 500 community members to a My Brother’s Keeper summit in Roxbury last Saturday. A diverse group of community stakeholders that included local residents, clergy, educators, police and business and nonprofit leaders — as well as a good number of teens — gathered at the James P. Timilty Middle School to help shape the local MBK initiative that aims to improve the opportunities and outcomes for Boston’s boys and men of color.

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Residents reject addiction programs for former Radius Specialty Hospital on Townsend St.

Roxbury residents were vociferous in their opposition to the city’s proposal to site addiction recovery services displaced from Long Island at the former Radius Specialty Hospital on Townsend Street.

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Report shows Latinos underrepresented in local government leadership

A report released this week, “The Silent Crisis: Including Latinos and Why It Matters,” shows that while Latinos make up 17.5 percent of Boston’s population, they hold only 7.5 percent of cabinet, senior staff or chief positions and only 7.1 percent of board and commission seats in city government.

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Governor Patrick signs order on environmental justice

Governor Deval Patrick has signed an Executive Order on Environmental Justice that enhances environmental protections and benefits for communities of color and low-income or limited-English-proficiency communities, groups that bear a disproportionate burden of environmental pollution and toxins.

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Mayor vetoes proposed commission on black and Latino boys and men

City Council members reacted indignantly last week to Mayor Martin Walsh’s veto of a proposed new Commission on the Status of Black Men and Boys in Boston that District 7 Councilor Tito Jackson had been championing for the past 10 months.

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Stories from Roxbury’s elders evoke bygone era

Roxbury seniors shared their stories as part of the Roxbury Elder Storytelling Project.

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Dismay, call to action after ‘sobering’ school report details racial disparities

Following last week’s release of a Boston Public Schools report revealing deep disparities in outcomes for black and Latino males in the Boston schools, community members raised questions and voiced a mixture of emotions and thoughts from dismay and anger to suggestions and passionate hope for change.

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Forum examines challenges women and girls face in jobs, education

Nonprofit leaders discussed the challenges unique to women in girls during a forum presented by Simmons College and the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts.

Report details disparate educational outcomes for blacks, Latinos in Boston schools

The school department released a report this week outlining the challenges black and Latino students face in the city’s education system

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