Letters to the Editor

Needs to be Preserved

To the Editor.

The article on May 30 by Dan Murphy on the West End Museum is of great value to the community. It highlights an important cultural resource to the city that deserves as much attention as the larger institutions.

Your readers need to know that The Last Tenement at 42 Lomasney Way mentioned in the piece is privately owned and has no protected historical status. In the current frenzied real estate market it could be sold and demolished at any time. It may be the last residential structure from the lost neighborhood and needs to be preserved.  

Thank you for being supportive of the history of the community.

Michael Wyson

We can do better for the lowest income Bostonians

To the Editor.

Make no mistake, almost 300 Hancock Street residents and other residents of Beacon Hill have signed a petition to support affordable housing. We are also willing to roll out the welcome mat for Women’s Lunch Place, as Councilor Durkan recommends, or to any other developer that would provide women, men or families with safe and affordable housing at 27 and 29 Hancock Street. 

We are opposed to this facility being a new single room occupancy (SRO) facility on Hancock Street. The plans call for 36 units with 150 square foot bedrooms with no private bathrooms, kitchens, or living space. In our opinion, SROs are an outdated standard of living and plagued with issues.

We are deeply concerned by a report in Drug and Alcohol Dependence that found overdose mortality among SRO residents was 19 times higher than among non-SRO residents. Another point of reference is that there is only one existing SRO in Beacon Hill that lacks private bathrooms and kitchens.  One tenant shared his experience at the SRO facility with a Boston Globe reporter; excerpts include “he has a bed that’s too small for his frame… he can walk from one end of the room to the next in three paces. On his first night, [he] was jolted awake at 4 a.m. by a rat on his bedsheets” and “[he] continues to inject heroin twice a day, and allegedly his primary supplier lives in the same building. To get a hit, [he] needs only knock on his door … On a recent morning, used drug syringes were visible in the building’s third-floor bathroom.” (Boston Globe, One man’s fight to overcome addiction after living at Mass. And Cass; published November 28, 2023). 

Boston’s sister cities are doing far better for their low-income residents. Cambridge is developing housing for their lowest-income residents with private bathrooms and kitchens. Los Angeles subsidized the conversion of women-only SROs to studio apartments. And New York state has recently required that public funding prioritize “rehabilitating” SROs into studios with private bathrooms. The list goes on. You get it.

Councilor Durkan is right that it’s time to find an affordable housing solution for 27 and 29 Hancock Street. Yet, the proposal of an SRO without private bathrooms and kitchens is disappointing. We feel this type of housing is dangerous and undignified for tenants and one would hope that our city’s intention is to provide homes that align with national modern standards.  

27 and 29 Hancock Street have sat empty and in a state of disrepair for decades and the vulnerable populations in Boston deserve a dignified place to live. This is why the neighbors of Hancock Street have formed a new 501(c)(3) non-profit organization called “Homes On Hancock” to support high-quality, safe and affordable housing on the North Slope. We believe that Boston and Beacon Hill can do better than what is currently being proposed and are eager to work with the City of Boston to help find a path forward that gives low-income residents the best opportunity to rise up.

We can do better for the lowest-income Bostonians. Hancock Street and petition supporters are here to help. Councilor Durkan, Mayor Wu and other Boston city officials, will you help too?

Victoria Kinnealey

Nathalie Salomon 

Wendy Oleksiak 

Devin Kennedy

John Gulliver

Harold A Brink 

And over 280 petition signers

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