Mass Pike Towers residents fighting Trinity Financial over 200-unit building
Back when Trinity Financial acquired the Mass Pike Towers housing development in 2000, the deal seemed like a win-win, tenants say. The developers secured $16 million in public funds to purchase and renovate the nearly 30-year-old building complex. They promised to keep the units affordable and to give tenants the right to purchase the development after 15 years. The tenants remembered that option, spelled out in a memorandum of understanding, when things began to go sour in 2003.
Entrepreneurs make connections at event
Last weekend, a collection of business leaders, financial professionals, activists and entrepreneurs set about the work of closing that gap during the Banner’s financial literacy conference on, “Money Talk: Building Black Wealth,” held at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center.
Locals seeking share of jobs and contracts
Although there are few luxury housing buildings planned between Dudley Square and Mattapan Square, $110 million in city- and state-funded projects in the pipeline for the Roxbury area promises to bring the construction boom to Boston’s black community.
The MBTA will begin construction on the Mattapan station of the Fairmount Line in early spring of next year, working weekends and evenings to avoid disruptions in service on the commuter rail line, which runs through Hyde Park, Mattapan, Dorchester and Roxbury. At the end of the two-year construction project, riders from Mattapan Square will be able cut their travel time to downtown Boston in half, according to Desiree Patrice, a project manager with the MBTA.
City seeking affordable options
The Urban Housing Unit landed in Roxbury last week, occupying a vacant lot on the corner of Blue Hill Avenue and Gaston Street, the rectangular white unit’s front door facing the street. Visitors could proceed through the glass entryway into the bedroom of the 380-square-foot dwelling, past a small bathroom and into the kitchen/dining/living room area — and be done with the tour in mere seconds.
Amid what many see as uncertain times, UMass Boston Provost Winston Langley removed the chairman of the Africana Studies Department, Robert Johnson, an action that sparked controversy. In an interview with the Banner last week, Langley said he removed Johnson after standard academic quality and development review, during which academics from outside the UMass system evaluated the quality of instruction in the Africana Studies department.
Complaints of displacement amid building boom
Both the name change and demonstration come as the city is in the midst of a construction boom that has generated luxury high-rises claiming space on the city’s skyline, heightened levels of real estate speculation and displaced working-class renters from gentrifying neighborhoods like South Boston and Jamaica Plain.
While the city officials have been preoccupied with transportation corridors, activated streetscapes and incremental increases in the required 13 percent affordability for new housing construction, the activists have expressed alarm at the pace of displacement of low-income renters along the Washington Street corridor and fears that the BRA will do little to stem the rising tide of gentrification.
Justice cites ‘indignity’ of repeated stops
Supreme Judicial Court Justice Geraldine Hines authored a ruling in defense of blacks fleeing the police. The unanimous SJC ruling stated that people fleeing the police may be motivated by a desire to “avoid the recurring indignity of being racially profiled,” and that their flight should not be automatically interpreted as evidence of “criminal activity.”
Several dozen Chinatown activists met with city officials at the Quincy School last week to discuss strategies to stem the ongoing displacement residents are facing as pressure from for-profit developers continues to build. The activists want the Boston Redevelopment Authority to adhere to the Chinatown Master Plan, a document neighborhood residents created in 1990 and have amended as recently as 2010, to outline their goals for affordable housing and open space.
Man says Walpole cops violated his rights
Jean-Paul Wahnon has never run afoul of the law. So when a Walpole police officer rifled through his Toyota Prius on an August afternoon and repeatedly asked whether the car was his and whether he had a gun in his possession, Wahnon was concerned.
Demonstrators call for increased public investment
Massachusetts Education Secretary James Peyser elicited boos from faculty and student activists at UMass Boston’s convocation last Thursday, when he called for the state’s public colleges and universities to operate on a “new business model” and quoted industrialist Henry Ford.
Is univ. shutting down Africana Studies?
A shakeup that sidelined the longstanding chairman of the Africana Studies department at UMass Boston has a group of professors there charging that the administration is seeking to dismantle the department. After nearly two decades at its helm, Professor Robert Johnson was relieved of his duties and replaced by Susan Tomlinson, an associate professor of English, whom Johnson’s backers say has little experience with Africana Studies.
Chynah Tyler wins three-way race by narrow margin
In what was the most hotly-contested legislative race in Boston’s low-turnout state primary, political newcomer Chynah Tyler eked out a narrow victory, with 901 of the 2,061 votes cast in the three-way race. Monica Cannon trailed by 105 votes with 794, and Marydith Tuitt garnered 364 votes.
Each of the 30 students who participated in this year’s Transportation Training Immersion Program spoke glowingly about their hands-on experiences working in MBTA service yards, Internet Technology centers and in the Real Estate/Safety/Security office. The students, most of whom attend Madison Park Vocational Technical High School, spoke during a graduation celebration held last month at the state Transportation Building. They spoke about how the program helped them better understand subject matter they studied in high school.
Bill giving cities tools to stop foreclosures assigned to study
Activists working to fight a recent sharp uptick in foreclosures year suffered a setback at the end of this year’s legislative session in July, when the House declined to vote on a bill that would make give cities and towns the power to mandate mediation between banks and homeowners in default.
Senator advocates progressive policies
Now, after more than four years in the Senate, Warren is tying together her life story, her analysis of what’s wrong with the economy and her prescription for fixing it into a speech, versions of which she has delivered at the Democratic National Convention and in other Massachusetts cities and towns.
Dorchester man captures evolving language
Dorchester resident Manuel Da Luz Goncalves has compiled a 40,000-word Cape Verdean Creole-to-English dictionary, working over the last 10 years with the literature, folklore and music of the West African archipelago to determine standard spelling and meaning for the words.
Says move will help attract, retain workers
If all goes according to plan, by 2018 all of the workers in Bon Me’s six trucks, five restaurant locations and central kitchen facility will earn $15 an hour, according to co-founder Ali Fong.
Neighbors question developer’s ties to Inspectional Services Dept.
Last week, City Realty Group proposed a total of 39 units at 50 and 56 Cedar Street — zoned for nine and three units of housing, respectively — sparking concern among neighborhood residents. Adding fuel to the neighbors’ worries is the architectural firm the developers brought into the deal: Roache Christopher Architects LLC, a firm co-founded by Inspectional Services Division Commissioner William “Buddy” Christopher and now managed by his son James Christopher.
Meets with homeless students, Madison Park staff
Anissa Essaibi-George toured Roxbury two weeks ago, looking into issue of homelessness and small business development. Although the Dorchester native hasn’t spent much of her career working in Roxbury, she became familiar with the issue of homeless students during her 12 years at East Boston High.
‘Black Lives Matter’ banner is part of year-long conversation on bias
A “Black Lives Matter” banner has hung from Somerville’s City Hall building throughout the last 12 months, a provocative statement at a time when people around the country are debating the role of race in law enforcement and the criminal justice system. The controversy heated up two weeks ago when police officers from across the state gathered in front of the building to protest the sign, with a contingent displaying a blue and white “cops’ lives matter” banner. Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone, who had the banner installed, said he was heartened by the counter-demonstration of Somerville residents who outnumbered the officers.
CERO helps local farms produce healthy vegetables
Every day as tons of Boston’s food waste gets hauled off to landfills, two garbage haulers with the acronym CERO divert a small portion to a farm in South Hamilton. There, microbes do the hard work of breaking down orange peels, onion skins and wilted lettuce into compost. After a year of microbial digestion, the CERO trucks return, load up and bring that compost to Boston farms, which in turn supply local consumers with fresh vegetables.
Legislation paves way for certification
State officials hope a voluntary certification system governing the operation of sober homes in Massachusetts will help increase safety and curtail abuse in the unregulated market for the group homes. But a group of Roxbury neighbors who turned out for an information session on the new standards for the homes were less optimistic.
Sheet metal worker teaches locals how to perform restoration work
Like many blacks in the building trades, T. Michael Thomas struggled to balance his love for his work and his antipathy for his union. As one of a handful of non-white members of the Sheet Metal Workers Local 17, Thomas found that he was often passed over for jobs in favor of less-qualified whites.
Renovations to be completed by early next year
Long housed in a building directly across Crawford Street from the old Grove Hall Library building, Freedom House moved in three years ago. It now is operating out of a set of trailers while the 8,400 square foot library building undergoes a $1.5 million renovation.
Protesters numbering in the thousands took over the streets of Roxbury yesterday demonstrating against police violence against blacks in the United States.
The Lawyer’s Committee For Civil Rights and Economic Justice’s Belin Economic Justice Project, can help businesses through legal dilemmas including protecting intellectual property, determining which legal entity a business should select and drawing up catering contracts.
Members of the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus drafted a letter outlining the urgency of passing criminal justice reforms at the state and local level, many of which were prompted by the nationwide movement to counter police abuse of blacks.
Boston activists hold rally, march in Roxbury
As demonstrators in Boston and other U.S. cities rallied for peace, legislation aimed at increasing protections against police abuse is stalled in the Massachusetts legislature.
Roxbury woman launches custom embroidery venture
Lisa Martin had been operating an embroidery business as a sideline for six years, working out of the kitchen of her Roxbury condo to produce customized baseball caps, jackets and other items. Then, last year when she was laid off from her job as an administrative assistant at a local nonprofit, Martin went all in. She purchased an engraving machine and began marketing her skills to wedding planners, funeral homes, sports teams — anyone who needs a custom touch.
Ballot question proponents, foes to spend millions
Come November 1, Massachusetts voters will decide whether to lift the state’s current cap on the number of charter schools operating here by voting up or down on a ballot question backed by a record-breaking $18 million in contributions. With Massachusetts teachers unions pledging another $12 million to defeat the question, the race will draw significantly more resources than any race in Massachusetts history.
The city council’s vote on the school budget — scheduled for Wednesday this week — will be the latest development in what has been one of the most contentious budgeting processes in recent history. The year began with a picket line outside the mayor’s January State of the City address and included two student walk-outs, demonstrations and packed budget hearings.
Business Development sec. seeks to broaden opportunity
While the Greater Boston area has long been a hotbed of business innovation — from the biotech boom in Kendall Square to the tech start-ups growing on the Boston waterfront — it’s Nam Pham’s job to make sure the job creation is shared throughout the state.
Roxbury fête is highlight of Boston’s Caribbean Heritage Month observance
Caribbean Americans gathered in Dudley Square to celebrate Caribbean Heritage Month with music, poetry and other cultural expressions.
Says emails were not indicative of planning on future needs for Boston school buildings
In the wake of the release of Walsh administration emails in which BPS officials discuss school closures, city officials say that there are no concrete plans to close schools.
Officials seek to balance development, displacement
The several dozen community activists gathered Monday at the Bruce Bolling Municipal Building to discuss the future of Dudley Square confronted a conundrum that has been vexing city planners across the United States: How to facilitate development in a neighborhood without displacing those already living there.
Jamaica Plain woman finds niche with younger knitters
Diane Ivy’s is banking on her vibrant, street art-inspired yarn colors’ appeal to the looming legions of younger, more diverse knitters and crocheters.
Family-owned Haitian bakery a pillar in Mattapan community
Edna Etienne's bakery, now in a building she owns at the corner of Blue Hill Avenue and Babcock streets, is a gathering spot for the Haitian and Mattapan community. Many are drawn by the bakery’s specialty — traditional Haitian flakey puff pastries filled with beef, chicken or salted fish.
Mayor Martin Walsh’s Jamaica Plain coffee hour, held on the lawn of the Hunnewell Visitor Center at the Arnold Aboretum, began like any other of the regularly-scheduled meet-and-greets held throughout the city. But after Walsh’s opening remarks, the two dozen or so affordable housing activists who surrounded the mayor gave the event a distinctly Jamaica Plain flavor.
Hundreds fill City Hall Plaza, pray for peace
City and state officials gathered with Bostonians on City Hall Plaza in solidarity with victims and survivors of the worst mass-shooting in recent U.S. history.
The City of Boston has launched a demographics dashboard, an online tool that allows users to track information about the race, gender and pay of city employees.
Hub enrolled in plan for ‘school autonomy’
Boston’s involvement in a nation-wide campaign for charter school expansion has parent activists worried.
WILD alums broadcasting out of Warren Street studio
With a mix of classic and contemporary soul music, WZBR 1410 AM is re-establishing black radio in Boston.
The city has committed $7.5 million to its new Acquisition Opportunity Program, through which real estate investors will qualify for funding to acquire rental properties if they agree to maintain at least 40 percent of the units as affordable to those making no more than 60 percent of the Area Median Income.
Natalia Phillips’ winning attitude earned her the valedictorian spot at New Mission High School.
Want Chinatown development to be transferred to land trust
A group of Chinatown public housing tenants are locked in a battle over the ownership of the neighborhood’s largest public housing development.
Protest aimed at plugging gaps in 2017 budget
At issue is a school budget that city officials acknowledge is not keeping pace with the rising costs at BPS. While Walsh has touted his $13.5 million increase in school funding, that increase is substantially smaller than the $30 million increases the schools received in the last three budgets. The city’s budget has increased by 4 percent, but the BPS budget proposed for fiscal year 2017 has increased by just 1.35 percent.
Call for greater affordability, delay in planning
Last week, as community members gathered at English High School viewed BRA poster board displays showing ideas for improvements to transportation, proposals for housing, jobs, economic development and open space, a contingent of more than 100 affordable housing activists marched into the room and read in unison a statement calling on the agency to suspend its planning process and increase the percentage of affordable units proposed for the area from 30 percent to 70 percent.
Budgetary constraints and the pressure schools face to raise students’ scores on math and English language arts MCAS tests have whittled down history and social studies instruction at Boston middle and high schools. Students and teachers testified on the importance of history during a hearing last week.