(Editor’s note: Local cartoonist Joe Quigley is an occasional contributor of Letters to the Editor and was recently a subject in housing reporter Grace Ferguson’s series on the housing crisis in New Bedford. The following is a Facebook post Quigley agreed to have republished in The Light.)
After finishing my cartoon for tomorrow, I walked up town to have a prescription refilled. Took my time and checked out some last-minute Christmas decoration add-ons.
Not needing to but having not checked out the store windows on one street, I took a last minute turn and halfway through the block, I was met by an excited woman with a name badge and the word “survey” on her shirt coming toward me. Hoping to avoid a survey I crossed the street, as did she, and we met.
She was taking a survey about healthy neighborhoods that began five years ago, and recently the question of housing became a concern, and this woman was thrilled that for her last survey of the day she ran into the guy from the newspaper who had lived on Elm Street. I took the survey and got a $20 gift card.
Gave her my suggestions for dealing with gentrification, the ones I had included in a blog, and we discussed the whole situation.
She was thrilled that when she got back to the office she could “brag” she had run into me and got the golden ticket interview.
I just hope what I offered will be as thrilling to the process as I was a thrill to her.
The survey involves a study by MIT and other housing interested parties and she noted who I was on my survey in case someone at MIT wanted to follow up since everyone involved in the survey had read the articles.
Of course, being honest, this is another example of fame without riches, unless you count a $20 gift card as a fortune.
Here were my suggestions:
Tenants must be informed of the intended sale of a building to afford them reasonable time to look for other apartments.
A reasonable amount of time must be given to tenants to move upon completion of sale, 60 days at the minimum.
Rents can only rise by a reasonable percentage based on existing rents and the median income of city residents. No doubling and tripling.
No application or credit check fees during the city’s rebuilding.
Moving expenses for displaced people who did not choose to move to be supplied by new owners if the existing tenants are priced out or the building’s remodel requires it be empty.
Moving funds must be in cash, money order, or bank check so there is no delay in availability.
That 15-20% of all rental property by any individual, company, or conglomerate be set aside for low-income housing in any building with a set minimum number of units.
Low income is determined based on the existing local median income and not some national figure that is not relevant to the city. (Low-income would be New Bedford low income, not city of Boston low income).
City Hall set up a department to deal with the long-range housing problem rather than having people rely on the “Columbus Method” of finding assistance however you can discover it and land on it.
The names of corporations buying property in the city be a matter of public record so people will know who actually owns the property. No blind buyers. People should know who their landlords are.
There are enough investors where those who choose not to follow the city’s regulations can be replaced by those who will.
Joe Quigley is a political and social cartoonist living in New Bedford.