Recent Article Appears in Socialist Worker About the Fight for the Rights of the Tenants at Lyman Terrace:
Pioneer Valley GRP Resolution, June 28, 2012
Whereas decent, affordable housing is essential for equitable and sustainable communities;
Whereas the relocation and reoccupancy plans proposed thus far for Lyman Terrace, Holyoke, are inadequate for meeting varied tenant and community needs and unfairly target and further marginalize a vulnerable population;
Whereas tenant and community involvement in planning has thus far been inadequate;
Whereas current living conditions require significant improvements; and
Whereas preserving and rehabilitating existing structures is more cost-effective, more environmentally responsible, and more conducive to maintaining cultural heritage and a sense of place than wholesale demolition and new construction;
Now be it resolved that the Pioneer Valley Green-Rainbow Party opposes the demolition and disposition of Lyman Terrace housing project and supports more inclusive processes for developing better plans.
7:00pm until 8:30pm
Media Education Foundation Frances
Crowe Community Room,
60 Masonic Street, Northampto
Reprinted with permission, a letter from Sonia Gonzalez, President of the Lyman Terrace Tenants Association:
April 22, 2011
Residents Advisory Board
To Whom it May Concern,
With all due respect that you may deserve I would like to explain my worries that us tenants have about Lyman Terrace in Holyoke.
On February 17, 2012 we received notice from Holyoke Housing Authority about the demolition on Lyman Terrace. They stated that this will not cause a “significant impact.”
This statement as residents from Lyman Terrace has offended us and has disrespected us because we are human beings. We feel that this decision that was made by the Holyoke Housing Authority along with the approval of Mayor Alex Morse is discriminatory because the majority of us that leave here are Hispanics.
This will be a significant impact to all of us emotionally. I would like to explain the impact that this will have.
The majority of us that live here are seniors in which our children and grandchildren have been raised here. This has been our home for decades.
There are also young adults that are raising their children here.
Holyoke Housing Authority did not notify us with enough time about their decision about the Lyman Terrace demolition. They did not meet with us to hear their options; they just made the decision without caring about our thoughts and feelings. They did not give us any options.
The only meeting that they had with us about the demolition of Lyman Terrace the administration of Holyoke Housing Authority and other individuals that are involved with the demolition. They basically ran the whole meeting in a way that for the residents was impossible.
The only question that they made to us was “Would you like better living?” We felt as if they were making fun of us and it was offensive because they are not sure if they find something for us after the demolition.
In this are there are adults that are disabled, Along with other individuals that have several other medical conditions, there are also children that have several medical conditions and they do not have transportation. The treatments that these individuals receive are in the Holyoke Health Center which is located very close to us and we go see our doctors without any problems.
We live close to the businesses that are here in Downtown. In these businesses we buy food, clothes, and all of the things that we need for our children, grandchildren and for our homes. This will cause a significant impact to us as residents but as well as the business owners in which the majority of their sales are from the Lyman Terrace residents.
A lot of our children go to Dr. Marcella R. Kelly School which is located at 216 West Street, Holyoke. In Holyoke we have the school zones and the students that live in Lyman Terrace have to attend this school. There are students that have been attending this school for many years and if we have to leave our homes this will affect the education of our children and grandchildren and it will also affect the school.
Another excuse that they are giving for this decision is that it is because of the community, drugs ect. These situations are everywhere. I would like for you to know that we call the police and they do not come. When they hear our Hispanic accents they speak to us very sarcastically and they ignore us. It is not our fault it is the Holyoke Police Departments fault.
The people from the Holyoke Housing Authority stated that the apartment are very deteriorated, we live very happily in our homes and if in one way or another they are deteriorated it is the Holyoke Housing Authorities fault because they do not fix things the way that they are supposed to. The workers that they have for maintenance here do not care about doing a good job. We have gone to the main office of the Holyoke Housing Authority to give complaints about something that needs to be fixed and they reply that we do not have to worry because those projects are going to get demolition. Did they purposely not give these projects the proper maintenance so they have an excuse to demolition these projects and take us out of our homes?
Many years ago when Mr. Murphy was the director of the Holyoke Housing Authority, they gave money so that they can put up new windows in the apartments. Only one apartment from the project got new windows. Where is the money that was supposed to go into putting up new windows in Lyman Terrace? Where is the money that they are receiving in order to maintain and better Lyman Terrace? These questions we are making them to the director Rosaline Dean and the sub-director Matthew and they have never given us an answer. We would like that there be an investigation about this done.
They are offering us Section 8 but they are not sure if they will have those vouchers. We are not going to live in the streets with our children and grand children because that is what the personal of the Holyoke Housing Authority and the Holyoke Mayor want. There are not enough living areas in Holyoke to place all of us. Is it that because we are Hispanic they want to make us leave Holyoke?
The personal at the Holyoke Housing Authority say that these projects are not historic. These projects are one of the first projects that were federally funded in the state. Lyman terrace represents the history of the New Deal and they should be preserved. Lyman terrace has been built for 72 years. The evaluations that the ERR made are not fair and they are not the correct information they only used the information from 1982 and when Lyman Terrace only was 42 years old. Did they make these evaluations with the purpose to believe that there is another reason to leave us without our homes?
Please I hope that you hear us because we have not had correct presentation to help us. We are human beings that are now affected emotionally because we do not know what is going to happen to us and our families. We have been treated as if we were objects and as if we do not have any rights. We deserve respect; we pay our rents, when there are elections we go out to vote. Also when we need help from the people that we voted for they have left us alone and have not helped us. We are Hispanic and the personnel form the Holyoke Housing Authority have disrespected and humiliated us. They are emotionally abusing the residents in Lyman Terrace.
With all due respect,
Reprinted with permission:
6 March 2012
I write to associate myself with those who are seeking to preserve the Lyman Terrace Housing Project in Holyoke. I will restrict my remarks here to its preservation, leaving the question of further action for another day.
It is troubling, to say the least, that the otherwise conscientious Massachusetts Historical Commission relied upon incomplete and biased information to reach its decision against preservation. Its critics and Ms. VanPelt in particular have drawn attention to the flawed procedure and I see no need to rehearse their claims here. It is enough to observe that the project itself reflects an important moment in policy formation dating to New Deal social programming in the name of easing the plight of the working poor. The project embodied the most advanced thinking on public housing policy in the worst economic crisis in the nation’s history. It was an ingenious partnership between Federal and state government and its stands as a monument worthy of preservation. That we would opt for a different policy today is no argument for wiping out such an important emblem of our common past. By that reasoning, we would not preserve Mt. Vernon or Monticello or any other historic house.
Of course, no one of the stature of our first or third president lived at Lyman. Instead, it housed ordinary people whose labor made Holyoke a leading site of the First Industrial Revolution. In recent years, historic preservationists at the National Park Service have sought to rectify the obvious imbalance in preservation by seeking to preserve the living quarters of working people. Lowell is the best example of its enlightened policies. By preserving Lyman, the city of Holyoke would align itself with the such a sensible policy. It would also allow this generation to repay our debt to the sons and daughters of hard toil.
We historians have long sought what we call a useable past, a past that tells us who we were at a certain point in the historical continuum and what we might to do to guide us through the current day, one way or another. Lyman is a fine example of such a past. It marked a policy at once more humane and salutary than the high-rise, high-density public housing projects that succeed Lyman and that have since succumbed to the bulldozer. Lyman showed a better way. It makes no sense to erase from memory such an important structure.
Bruce Laurie, Professor of History Emeritus, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Elvin Bruno Jr emailed me asking if I would promote this event, which of course I would… I will also get in touch with the Trash Bash folks and see if we can get any supplies. I know that the DPW did give them a crap-load of trash bags a couple years ago. They may have some left.
See you there.
Please join us outside of City Hall at 12:45pm, on Sunday, April 22nd, 2012 as we break off into large groups to cover 1 whole mile of High Street in Holyoke, from Career Point to Corner’s Delight, where High Street and Lyman Street meet as part of a community effort to make our Downtown area look great again! Cleaning supplies will be available, but we ask that everyone brings an item (or items if possible) to help make this effort possible. Useful supplies include sturdy outdoor brooms, rakes, large heavy-duty trash bags and leaf bags, work gloves/latex gloves for safety, and a fun/ready to work spirit! Thank you all for your interest and be sure to spread the word!
I will also send out a friendly reminder as the date approaches.