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Push for Renters' Rights: Too Many Bay State Tenants "On the Edge"

Local advocates for renters' rights say far too many Massachusetts residents are living on the edge of homelessness. (RightToTheCity)
Local advocates for renters' rights say far too many Massachusetts residents are living on the edge of homelessness. (RightToTheCity)
September 26, 2016

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Advocates for renters' rights say too many tenants in the Bay State live each day on the edge of homelessness.

The median income in Springfield is $35,000, but many residents struggle to pay local housing costs because they earn far less, according to Michelin Bewsee, executive director of Arise for Social Justice. She said they are constantly searching for housing opportunities that won’t cost a majority of the renter's income.

"More than 40 percent of the households earn less than $25,000,” Bewsee said. “So, you have cost of housing on one end and lack of jobs on the other end."

Springfield was one of 50 cities to hold a rally last Thursday in association with the Right to the City Alliance, a group advocating for the rights of low-income renters.

Bewsee said her group is based in Springfield and has been pressing local officials to create a housing task force – so far, without success. She described Springfield as one of many communities across the state where far too many renters are in danger of falling into homelessness.

"While the cost of housing may not be the sole cause of homelessness, it is certainly a primary cause," Bewsee said. "And every other problem that people may have is easier resolved when people are in housing."

The national Right to the City Alliance was formed in 2007, responding to gentrification with a call to halt the displacement of low-income people, people of color, marginalized LGBTQ communities and young people of color from their historic urban neighborhoods.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - MA