Neighbors make change, one street at a time

As Laquisa Burke walked through her neighborhood, she couldn’t get very far without having people wave to her from their cars or greet her from their porches. Burke is one of the founders of the West of Washington Coalition, a group of community members whose goal is to improve the lives of residents in their neighborhood — a cluster of streets west of Washington Street in the Dorchester area. “Our little block was getting left out. We were not being represented,” Burke said. Many pedestrians had been killed in recent years by speeding cars and reckless drivers and neighbors did not feel officials were doing anything about it, Burke said. A few years ago, a child on a bicycle was struck and

Hostile housing market erodes stability for young professional

For Hallah Elbeleidy, apartment hunting in Massachusetts cities is like job hunting. “You have to perform, in a way,” Elbeleidy said. “(Landlords) want someone who’s eager, who looks like they will take care of the place.” Elbeleidy, a native of Brooklyn, New York, has lived in cities all over the world and was floored by the many challenges to finding a place to live in Cambridge and Somerville. “I don’t understand how students can afford the upfront (costs),” Elbeleidy said, noting that renters need thousands of dollars just to pay the deposits, fees, and first and last month of rent typically required by landlords. “Who are those housing units serving, at the $3,500-range?” The Great Neig

Feeling the Squeeze: Professor gets priced out of Cambridge apartment

When Bryan Bryson’s landlord wanted to raise the rent, the landlord argued that if Bryson could not tolerate the increase rate he will find other tenants who can. “That was his negotiation tactic,” said Bryson, a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health and soon-to-be faculty member at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Biological Engineering department. At the time, Bryson was a graduate student and was paying $2,100 a month for his Cambridge apartment. Even with two jobs, rent consumed more than 30 percent of his income. He went from three to four roommates to help defray costs, but sharing a one-bathroom apartment with so many people was a challenge. The landlord

A recap of our Great Neighborhoods bill hearing

The Great Neighborhoods bill took another step forward in the Massachusetts Legislature Thursday, Sept. 28, at a hearing before the Joint Committee on Community Development and Small Business. André Leroux, executive director of the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance, said, “The Great Neighborhoods bill represents a major reform of Massachusetts planning, zoning, and permitting laws. In addition to helping families stay in the communities where they live, it would also encourage more walkable and vibrant places while protecting the environment.” Residents, advocates, and officials from around the state testified in favor of the bill. Highlights from the hearing: Sen. Harriette Chan

5 reasons you should Sign the Great Neighborhoods petition

First, a bit of background: The petition supports passage of a “Great Neighborhoods” bill this legislative session, which ends July 13, 2018. There are two similar versions, House Bill 2420 and Senate Bill 81. These bills call for an update of Massachusetts’ planning, permitting, and zoning laws (the laws that govern what we can build and how we should grow) into ones that better support families and seniors. This means more options for housing, open space, and protection of natural resources. So why should you sign this petition? 1. You think we should have enough homes for everyone to live in. It seems obvious to say everyone should have a place to live, but if we continue on our current t

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