Being Displaced by Greed

eddy_toussaint-scc_and_uu_memberby SCC member Eddy Toussaint

Eddy Toussaint recently shared his story of displacement in a letter to Union United, a coalition committed to development without displacement in the rapidly changing Union Square area – and throughout Somerville. SCC is one of the founding members of Union United.

Eddy Toussaint SCC member

Eddy is also a Union United member, Haitian Kreyol translator/interpreter and poet. In his letter, he writes about having his lease terminated due to the sale of the property in which his family lived for six years. And he shares his frustration with development that is driving even people with healthy incomes out of what Eddy calls, “our favorite City of Somerville.”

Dear Union United members, 

The lease of our 2-bedroom apartment on Pleasant Avenue was terminated unexpectedly this spring due to the owner’s selling of the property. My wife and I are professionals, with one child in college, who have had an excellent relationship with the owner for the last six years. We very much wanted to be able to stay in Somerville or the surrounding areas. 

Regrettably, we couldn’t find an apartment in our favorite city of Somerville that met our budget, and having now moved, I can no longer participate in the proceedings and enriching discussions of a formidable organization like Union United. I will, however, continue to give all my moral support to the noble cause of social justice and political equality that you, as an organization and as individuals, pursue so valiantly. It’s been a joy and honor to spend those civic times with all of you. 

Naturally, I will continue to be engaged with the community of Somerville through my cable TV poetry program and the interpretation/translation services I provide. In fact, I am only 4 miles away, so I will find opportunities to stay connected. And I intend to attend some UU events when the occasions occur. 

I want to thank all those who have provided us with advice, leads, and encouraging words in our search for an apartment in the area. The only thing I deplore during my apartment search is the degree of greed and narrow selfishness I witnessed, characterized by the jacking up of rent prices in Somerville and Cambridge, which makes it virtually impossible for working families to find a decent, affordable apartment to rent in the area. 

I am appalled by the prevalence of this predatory practice which goes contrary to our values of human solidarity and deems it OK to take advantage of the “market,” at the expense of the diversity of the place and the suffering of people.

I am glad that Union United has made affordable housing an important part of its advocacy. Keep up the good fight.

Kenbe la,
Eddy Toussaint