Photos by Chris Faraone
Welcome to 103 Hudson Street, a beaten red brick row house on the southeast edge of Chinatown. Just a toss away from the I-93 South lane, two of the apartments have wooden planks crudely fixed in the windows; another two have signs that say, “We Shall Not Be Moved.”
If you lived here, you’d be homeless by now.
Such is the apparent reality for residents of 103 Hudson, which was sold to a private real estate investor last week. Following years of apparently horrid conditions—tenants report that issues ranging from vermin to inadequate heat went unaddressed—they’re now being harassed and pushed out.
With the new owners forcing everybody to relocate to hotels while they do renovations, this afternoon Hudson Street residents, along with about 20 of their friends and allies, rallied to say they refuse to leave. While drivers crept by on the overpass hoping to get home before the blizzard, the Chinatown families said they hope to even have a home when the snow wraps on Wednesday, the deadline for them to be packed and ready to go.
According to supporting housing rights groups, including the Chinese Progressive Association which organized the action, it’s not enough to move tenants into other parts of the city. Even if the relocation is only temporary, which probably isn’t the case since the investor who bought their place has another purchase pending for the neighboring row house.
“I live in Chinatown, I work in Chinatown, I shop in Chinatown,” one resident, Yan Nong Yu, said through an interpreter. The woman fought back tears explaining how her entire world exists within the shrinking Chinatown perimeter, her frozen hand holding a sheet of paper with prepared remarks. “It took 150 years to build Chinatown into what it is today.” Her neighbor jumped in: “We came here when it wasn’t desirable. Before the tourists. Before the developers.”
That was a long time ago. Nowadays there’s development on all sides; at a close distance, the stunning new Ink Block, located on the old Boston Herald property, has a banner advertising new apartments. Behind them is the building where the Dig is located, which is beside another high-end multi-use buildout.
Though some new towers stick their heads out of the skyline, a lot of coming demolition in the chic condominium vortex surfacing on both sides of the Mass Pike here is rather hidden. At least for the time being. On the southbound drive home tonight, commuters couldn’t even see the residents of 103 Hudson protesting.
A Queens, NY native who came to New England in 2004 to earn his MA in journalism at Boston University, Chris Faraone is the editor and co-publisher of DigBoston and a co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. He has published several books including 99 Nights with the 99 Percent, and has written liner notes for hip-hop gods including Cypress Hill, Pete Rock, Nas, and various members of the Wu-Tang Clan.