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FREE RADICAL: SLUMLORD MILLIONAIRES

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Last week, the Boston Globe Spotlight Team published an investigative series under the title “Shadow Campus.” The pieces focused on what they called “a collision of greed, neglect, and mismanagement” at the core of Boston’s housing quagmire in which young people live in squalor for outrageous rents while edging out the working class.

I feel I’m both a victim and a perpetrator of this violence. I moved to Allston during college, paid too much for what I got, had to wait for a month to get my heat and appliances fixed. I lived a street away from where Binland Lee died, blocks from other fires with less tragic outcomes. But I could afford to pay too much. And to eventually move. I didn’t know it then, but I contributed to the continued displacement of immigrant families.

What happened in Allston is happening in neighborhoods across Greater Boston. And it seems that the city is struggling to identify a central villain: it’s the slumlords who put students in danger; it’s the students who drive prices sky high; it’s outside developers buying up homes. And of course, it’s the universities, which conveniently lack enough on-campus housing for the number of students they accept. Needless to say, these huge “nonprofit” institutions need to invest in the communities that literally surround them; until administrators act like better neighbors, students will suffer and longtime residents will continue being displaced.

There are hard-working community-based organizations that represent working-class families, people of color, and students, but Boston needs a benevolent umbrella tenant federation to demand cooperation on all fronts. As for the city’s role, as the Globe series showed and Mayor Marty Walsh has already begun to do, it’s clear the Hub has to push penalties on negligent building owners. We also need an organization that operates outside of municipal government to mediate housing disputes. It seems like everyone is part of the problem, so everyone should be part of the solution.

FURTHER READING:

TROUBLE ON THE HOMEFRONT

DEFENDING BOSTON’S RAPIDLY SHRINKING CHINATOWN

BETWEEN A SHACK AND A FAR PLACE

CHINATOWN UNDER SIEGE 

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One Response to FREE RADICAL: SLUMLORD MILLIONAIRES

  1. mplo mplo says:

    Imho, there’s plenty of responsibility to go around for this horrendous situation.

    A) Colleges and Universities in this area should stop their encroachment on nearby neighborhoods once and for all. Continued encroachment by colleges and universities contributes greatly to this horrific situation by making the nearby neighborhoods in question ripe for slumlords like Anwar Faisal, Ana Boukarava and others, to come in and create what are aptly called “student ghettos” out of such neighborhoods, by not keeping their properties up to code, taking advantage of, and endangering students. The city should crack down on the colleges and universities once and for all and STOP the college and universities’ encroachment into nearby areas.

    The colleges and universities should also put a cap on annual student admissions, which would help a great deal. Some of these students (in fact many of them) could and should wait a year or so before going off to college, especially far away from home.

    Many students themselves bear responsibility, due to their insistence on living in off-campus housing that’s all too often not up to code, and unsafe, to boot. Students also contribute greatly to the problem by having all-night drunken, rowdy parties, which not only disturb lifetime and local residents, but are totally destructive in their brawling, loud music, noisiness, vandalism, and by relieving themselves and/or puking in people’s front/back yards.

    The city should crack down hard on colleges and universities for their continued encroachment on nearby neighborhoods, and get them to crack down on students themselves, and on underage drinking, to boot.