New Orient Heights LTO vow to bring positive change to community

Orient Heights Local Tenant Organization discuss their plans to strengthen and serve their community on July 23, 2015.

Orient Heights had not held an election in 15 years before five residents established a local tenant organization (LTO) on July 22nd. All of whom were women with evidently one thing in common: passion to serve others. Nearly a week after settling into their positions, the newly formed LTO began organizing Orient Height’s annual Unity Day specifically to tackle social issues within their community.

“We’re going to include an international food exchange so residents can cook their culture’s foods and share it with others,” said Tracy Marshall, Vice President of the LTO. “Multicultural food exchange would be a good opportunity for people to try and learn something new because our community is very diverse.”

Originally built in 1955, Orient Heights public housing development remains a valuable section in East Boston’s history. The neighborhood shares with Maverick landing, a distinguished geographical part of the city by sitting on a hill which measures 152 feet. Italian immigrants once settled and dominated this part of Eastie in the 1850’s. Now, more than half of residents living in the Orient Heights complex are Hispanic and African-American.

According to the LTO, social tensions between white Hispanics and black Hispanics and African American residents have recently sprouted from lack of understanding of cultural differences. To equally represent Hispanics in the Orient Heights public housing development, the LTO chose Jessica Santiago, a Latina to be treasurer, and Emily Perez to be board member. They both were heavily involved in planning for Unity Day.

Apart from this, the LTO is encouraging residents to attend community meetings to prepare for any potential upcoming redevelopment.

“I think people here have a fear of what might happen after redevelopment processes,” said Carol Johnson, president of the LTO. “But if they attend meetings, they’ll be able to learn very important information.”

The BHA is currently seeking and accepting proposals to revitalize Orient Heights.

In the meantime, the LTO hosted summer food service programs and are working to gain trust from their peers, but find it rather difficult due to a bad reputation once held by the last Tenant Task Force. According to the LTO, the last Tenant Task Force struggled with budgeting which ultimately reflected poorly on programs and events for residents.

While the LTO is working on giving a better perception to residents, they’re also recruiting former members. On Unity Day, the LTO officially welcomed and bestowed former Tenant Task Force member, Janet Comfrey to the team.

“The thing we love about Janet is that she is so helpful to residents here,” said Marshall. "She’s been a resident for over 20 years and have proved that she's here for the residents.”


| 9/24/2015 2:30:43 PM | 0 comments


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