Housing & Institutionalized Racism in the City of Boston

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Working at Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) this summer is truly an honor. Without really knowing what I was getting into, the world of legal services has blown me away. My supervising attorneys focus on working with community organizing groups in East Boston and Jamaica Plain to combat “no fault” evictions that result from the rapid gentrification of these areas. After spending last fall in Ecuador, I engage mostly with the Hispanic community of East Boston at the weekly City Life/Vida Urban (CLVU) meetings that are held in the basement of a church across the street from the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center. I think BC has set me up for a very successful experience with GBLS because of my service work with 4Boston and PULSE, studying in Quito and working the Mi Caleta, and completing my philosophy courses on urban and community development and the history of Boston.

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Highlights of my first 2 weeks on the job:

  • preparing for Hudson Street trial at the beginning of July
  • working with community organizers at CLVU to develop a strategy to combat the corporations that are buying out housing currently available for tenants with Section 8 vouchers
  • attending conferences and meetings with the Housing Coalition and Community Lawyering Coalition made up of other legal services and legal aid attorneys from MA
  • understanding the legal eviction process through clinics built to serve people who attend the CLVU meetings seeking walk-in advice

I have always known that I wanted to work in the realm of advocacy and social justice, but that career path is not so clearly defined. Some would argue that the best way to make system changes that truly impact the lives of marginalized communities is through legislation or the courts. While I am not sure if that is the case or not, I have always envisioned going back to school to get a master’s degree in Public Policy or a law degree. Either way, this internship is setting me up for a future in public interest work, potentially from the side of the community organizer or maybe even the attorney.

Book recommendation on the theme of the housing crisis in the United States: “Evicted” by Matthew Desmond.

Written by Marisa Marshalka, BC Class of 2017

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