“Sometimes it feels inevitable, but it’s not inevitable,” Steve Meacham, an organizer for the housing advocacy group City Life/Vida Urbana, told the crowd at a rally this afternoon to support tenants in an apartment building at 33 Park St. in Malden fighting rent hikes of nearly 50 percent. “It’s wrong. … When the tenants got a 50 percent rent increase they decided they would fight it.”
The building is owned by United Properties, “the management entity for all of Andreas [Tsitos’s] properties,” according to the corporation’s website. It owns some 800 units in Malden, Meacham said.
“United Properties, you can’t hide! We can see your greedy side!” Meacham led the crowd to chant.
Tenants wrote on the facebook invitation to the rally: “Our historic apartment building in the heart of Malden was bought earlier this year by a real estate developer who now owns half of the city. Our new landlord has jacked up the rent by almost 50 percent, effectively driving out a majority of the long-term tenants, including the superintendent who had lived here and maintained the residence for more than 30 years. Those of us who are staying have decided to push back against this unfair and exorbitant increase in our rents. We are unable to find comparable housing options in Malden because the landlord has a monopoly on the rental market. But we are the working-class people that make Malden a thriving, diverse, and interesting community, and we refuse to give up our homes without a fight.
Katherine Bergeron said she’d lived in the building for about 10 years after having to leave Boston housing because of a “slumlord.” “Every time we feel solid somewhere, we just get kicked out all over again. It’s heartbreaking,” she said, getting choked up.
“We cannot afford this,” said Janak Kumar, who said he’d lived in the building for about 13 years.
Malden Mayor Gary Christenson and City Councilors John Matheson and Stephen Winslow expressed support for the tenants and a need to keep housing affordable in the city. Representatives of the Chinese Progressive Association, Malden Education Association (a teachers’ union), a union tradesman, and housing activists from East Boston and Jamaica Plain also spoke in support of the tenants.
“I never thought anything like this would happen to me. I always kept my bills paid,” said Bruce Green of the Stony Brook Tenants Association in Hyde Park. “But, no, not when somebody wants you to move out for his riches. … Once he gets his more money, he’s going to go for the next neighbor and the next neighbor. … It’s happening all over the city of Boston. They’re building like crazy, but you think you’re going to be able to afford them?”
“This is an important battle and we’re going to win it,” Meacham concluded, “and that’s going to help Malden and residents of the Boston area.”
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