JP Neighbors Protest Foreclosure Auction

A neighborhood organization and a local nonprofit recently protested at the foreclosure auction of a Jamaica Plain home to prevent bidding on the property for which the owners were working toward a sale agreement but had not yet completed the deal. “We have a neighbor who has lived in our community for 18 years who, because of a health emergency, is being forced to sell his home,” said Chuck Collins, a neighbor and  member of the Asticou Martinwood South Street Neighborhood Association. Collins told Jamaica Plain News the intent of the picket outside the South Street condo was to "urge investors to back off" as they were calling on the bank to allow the sale to go forward. Collins said the potential buyers had already completed a home inspection and a purchase-and-sale agreement was being finalized. The sale would have covered the owners' financial obligations to lenders. Asked about the foreclosure auction, Rushmore Loan Management Services provided the following statement to Jamaica Plain News:

"Rushmore strives to meet the needs of all of its borrowers, including those experiencing short- or long-term issues or concerns.


Here’s How You Can Help Our ‘Dreamer’ Neighbors

The federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) is coming to an end. DACA renewals will be possible for only a few weeks until Oct. 5th, 2017 for people whose DACA work permit expires between Sept. 5th, 2017 and March 5th, 2018. Locally, you can help a Dreamer renew their work permit!


Photos: JP’s City Life/Vida Urbana Marched to End White Supremacy

Jamaica Plain's City Life/Vida Urbana showed up in force on Saturday marching from Roxbury to the Boston Common to join the estimated 40,000 people protesting white supremacy, bigotry and racism. All photos were provided by City Life/Vida Urbana. City Life/Vida Urbana's group joined up with Right to The City Boston, a citywide alliance of grassroots social justice organizations, as they marched for several hours to downtown. City Life/Vida Urbana is a 40-year-old bilingual, community organization whose mission is "to fight for racial, social and economic justice and gender equality by building working class power through direct action, coalition building, education and advocacy."


What Redlining Looks Like: City Life/Vida Urbana Takes to the Streets to Outline Housing Discrimination

Part performance art, part public education, the Arts Committee of City Life/Vida Urbana literally drew a line down Washington Street Saturday afternoon to show what housing discrimination looks like. Drawing on the 1934 policy of the Federal Housing Administration not to underwrite mortgages in areas they determined were poor risks, CL/VU recreated the red line that the FHA drew in residential areas marking the boundaries of where they would not grant housing mortgages. In the words of Lawrence J. Vale in his book From the Puritans to the Projects, ( 2000) the FHA "gave federal sanction to a long history of housing prejudice [in which] it enforced the homogeneity of neighborhoods exclusive of [what it described as] undeserved people." Charles Abrams in his 1955 book Forbidden Neighbors stated that as of 1952, "98% of the 3 million home mortgages issued by the FHA went only to white homeowners". This policy created the pattern of urban and suburban life for three generations.

Testifying at a City Council hearing: L-R: Jacqueline Gomez, Marta Franco, Crisanto Rosas, Zenaida Flores, Rita Paul and María Christina Blanco.

Meet Tenant Organizer María Christina Blanco

Tuesday marks the kickoff of a city-sponsored review of what Washington Street should be like from Forest Hills to Jackson Square. A lot of interests will be in play as residents and officials build that master plan. Expect many of those voices to come from JP-based City Life/Vida Urbana, a tenants' rights organization. Jamaica Plain News recently walked Washington Street with María Christina Blanco, a lead organizer with City Life. The city has dubbed the planning effort "Plan JP/Rox: Preserve.


Olmsted Place Developer’s $150K to Fund Tenant Organizing, Park Work

An example of the work done by City Life/Vida Urbana. This is a City Council hearing on "just cause" evictions. Credit: City Life/Vida Urbana

On Tuesday the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council voted 10-1 to recommend grants totaling $150,000 to two JP organizations. The money comes from the mitigation fund from the Boston Residential Group, developers of Olmsted Place Apartments at 161A South Huntington Ave. City Life/Vida Urbana would receive $145,000 for its two-year "Health Through Housing Justice" program along the Washington Street corridor; $5,000 would be given to  to the Fund for Boston Parks and Recreation on behalf of the Jamaica Pond Association for improvements to Jamaica Pond.


‘Ain’t No One Can Afford This’ — Video Project Debuts at Lantern Parade

Santo Anibal Ramirez, owner of Anibal Color Studio, talking about closing his business due to the rise in rent. Credit: "Ain't No One Can Afford This"
People pour their sweat and souls into things they believe are worth their time. Helen "Homefries" Matthews, a Jamaica Plain resident of 13 years, dedicates her time to "Ain't No One Can Afford This," a public video project that will share the stories of JP residents and business owners who have been or are being priced out. I sat with Homefries for about two hours in Café Bartlett Square. As she spoke about her community and its residents, I saw the fervor in her eyes with which she is diving into this video project full-fledged.

Santo Ramírez, one of the store owners being evicted from City Realty property on Washington Street, shakes hands with supporters during a rally on Sept. 16, 2014.

Latino Business Owners Facing Eviction Take Stand Against New Landlord

City Realty is evicting Santo Ramírez from Anibal Color Studio, the business he's run at 3154 Washington St. for the last six years. On Tuesday, he and other business tenants took to the streets to protest what they say is their new landlord's heavy hand. "We depend on our business to survive," Ramírez told Jamaica Plain News after the rally. He and other business owners said City Realty has tried to jack up their rents and hasn't been a good community partner since they bought two Egleston Square buildings at auction in April.