Norwell St. rallyers decry evictions, lack of affordable housing

By 
Dave Eisenstadter, Special to the Reporter
Jun. 12, 2014

Demonstrators gathered in front of 193 Norwell St. on Tuesday demand more affordable rent following the removal of a family who occupied the vacant property over the weekend. Photo by Dave Eisenstadter

Displaced Dorchester resident Paul Adamson was not allowed to occupy a vacant home, so Adamson and about 50-60 others occupied the street instead.

Right to the City Boston organized the demonstration on Tuesday in front of 193 Norwell St., where Adamson and others told their stories of being pushed out due to increased rent.

The building where Adamson and his wife Renee had been renting was purchased and the rent was increased, forcing the Adamsons to relocate, he told the crowd through a megaphone.

“Since that time we’ve been moving from different rental apartment situations and each one has come down to a situation where they want to increase the rent or they were unwilling to make necessary repairs,” Adamson said.

One solution presented itself through the Coalition for Occupied Homes in Foreclosure, who offered to buy the Norwell Street property and have Adamson and his wife pay rent.

But building owners Fannie Mae did not accept that offer, according to Adamson.

Over the weekend, Adamson and his wife occupied the home, and on Saturday held a party attended by 150 people throughout the day celebrating the occupation, according to a statement from Right to the City Boston.

The Adamson’s were removed by police on Sunday by request of the owners, Adamson said.

Part of the problem is that home mortgage lenders, such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are not offering principal reduction on so-called “underwater mortgages” where the home is worth less than what is owed on it, according to Adamson.

Tenant protest: Paul Adamson, who occupied 193 Norwell St. with his wife Renee over the weekend, spoke at a Tuesday rally outside the home. Photo by Dave EisenstadterTenant protest: Paul Adamson, who occupied 193 Norwell St. with his wife Renee over the weekend, spoke at a Tuesday rally outside the home. Photo by Dave Eisenstadter

Activists led calls to “Reclaim! Remain! Rebuild our Community!” between different speakers.

One such speaker was Department of Neighborhood Development Director Sheila Dillon, who told demonstrators it was important for the Walsh administration to hear them.

“This administration wants to build more affordable housing in the city and we want foreclosed homes occupied and taken care of and to have them become assets to the community,” Dillon said.

Cristian Morales of East Boston said he and his family were forced out of their home when a new landlord increased their rent by 600 dollars.
“That’s becoming a more common story in our neighborhood,” Morales told demonstrators.

Kathy Brown from the Boston Tenant Coalition said she was pleased to see members of many different neighborhoods in Boston at the demonstration.

“We need to work together and we need to fight together to keep our homes and keep our communities,” Brown said.

Trends in Boston are being seen nationwide, according to demonstrators. The same day as the demonstration, Right to the City’s Homes for All Campaign released a report claiming a growing number of U.S. cities are majority renters.

According to the report, Boston is made up of 67 percent renters, which takes its numbers from the U.S. Census 2012 American Community Servey.

Jen Douglas of Jamaica Plain attended Tuesday’s demonstration with her 8-month-old son Spencer. She said she was excited by the group’s mobilization against banks and rising housing costs.

“I just came out in support of housing as a human right,” Douglas said. “We’ve got a major problem here in Boston and we’ve got a lot of people who live here now and who are at risk of not being able to live here in the near future.”

Boston Police Sgt. John Ahern said police were called to the demonstration through a 911 call, but police did not break up the protest.

Demonstrators described the gathering as a peaceful act and an expression of constitutional rights.