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Hyde Park landlord evicts non-profit group home from house where somebody was shot last week

In a Zoom call with angry Fairmount Hill residents this evening, Alex Edwards said he's evicted the non-profit group that had rented his two-family house at 74 Beacon St. as a "transitional" home, following a daytime shooting there last Thursday.

Edwards said the Justice Resource Institute (JRI) of Needham has removed all its clients and has promised to remove all its property from the house by April 1, after which he will either rent out the property to somebody else or just sell it. Edwards said whatever he decides he will likely do quickly, since he's currently paying $4,000 a month for the mortgage on the property, which Registry records show he bought in January, 2020 for $655,000. However, he acknowledged the house needs extensive repair work.

The shooting "did hit me hard and I can only imagine what happened to the people who witnessed it," Edwards said from his car, parked outside the house.

Capt. Joseph Gillespie of BPD District E-18 said the victim, found in a car on Metropolitan Avenue at the Milton line, several blocks away, did not suffer life-threatening injuries despite losing so much blood at the scene that ariving officers at first thought there might be two victims. Gillespie said detectives have identified suspects that they do not think the shooting was random, that the shooter knew the victim and specifically targeted him. He said he couldn't say more because the investigation is ongoing.

Neighbors on the call, organized by City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo and joined by state Rep. Rob Consalvo, said that, yes, the shooting was disturbing, but that in some ways it was just the culmination of problems they've been having with the house for nearly a year.

One resident said that when JRI first moved in, she was told the house would be used for "troubled youth," but that in recent months, the residents - whom Edwards said included one young woman with a baby on the first floor and four more people on the second floor - seemed to be older and more aggravating. Residents said they'd made repeated calls to both 311 and 911 about everything from trash problems to fighting in the street, but that nothing ever seemed to change before last Thursday.

Another resident said she had grown tired of JRI telling residents the reason they never saw any staffers or case workers at the property was because of Covid-19 - surely case workers at a home for "troubled youth" would be considered "essential workers."

Residents emphasized they are not against the idea of group homes, although they questioned whether they are getting clustered on Fairmount Hill. One resident who spoke sits on the board of a South Shore non-profit that runs such homes to get people off the streets; another said she lives next to a group home run by another social-services organization, Vinfen, that is well run and quickly responds to her queries.

Arroyo, who previously was a public defender who frequently worked to get clients into such homes, said that ideally, nearby residents shouldn't even be aware one of their neigbhoring houses was a group home, because they should be well run. The shooting, he said, "speaks for itself, [this house] was not well managed."

Neighbors questioned whether the facility was even legal in the house under Boston's zoning code.

Edwards said that following the shooting, an inspector from "1010" - ISD - came down to the house and said the use was legal.

But Arroyo said he's working with ISD Commissioner Dion Irish to research the issue. Arroyo said that homeowners have legal rights to do what they want with their property and that, depending on the specific sort of program JRI was running, its residents might be legally "protected" from any government efforts to evict them - the federal Fair Housing Act means the city is "not allowed to deny renters the right to rent anywhere." he said.

At the same time, he continued, groups that run residential programs need to be considerate of their neighbors. If nothing else, programs should be required to notify neighbors they are moving in and to keep them aware of any issues. Boston doesn't currently require that, but Arroyo said part of his and Irish's research will involve looking at setting something like that up.

Arroyo pledged to get back to residents with specific answers within a month.

Edwards said he would also let residents know what he decides about the house. Residents said they hope he'll do a better job communicating with them. Some people who live right next to the house said they were alarmed yesterday afternoon when they said the house's front door open and lights on - because they didn't know the people inside were workers cleaning out the house, rather than troublemakers back to the scene of the crime.

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Comments

Arroyo is useless.

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Voting closed 53

Exactly. This meeting wasn’t even posted pretty much anywhere. Someone I know stumbled upon it! Probably because he didn’t want anyone coming who would ask the hard hitting questions. After the last community zoom we had that he attended—he said “Please email me with anything!” So people did. And <<>>
It’s time to VOTE them all out!

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Voting closed 33

I first read about it on the Hyde Park Neighbors Facebook group. Do you need the URL? But where would you have wanted this posted? Or who should have been notified?

The neighbors who were there (seemed to be at least 40) seemed to ask some pretty hard hitting questions, directed at both the city and the landlord, although leave it to the Voice of the Neighborhood guy (every neighborhood meeting has one) to stew for the entire meeting, aside from occasional snorts, building up a full head of steam so he could just explode at the very end at Arroyo and Arroyo's chief of staff, why he even played the classic Boston-neighborhood-meeting card of declaring he'd lived in the neighborhood far longer than that aide, who probably doesn't even shave yet (he specifically said he'd lived in the neighborhood for 50 years and then questioned whether the aide had even lived in the neighborhood for more than half an hour).

Sorry, I don't know exactly what he was building up to ask. After exploding and declaring himself "insulted" because questions he'd posted seemed to be coming from the aide, rather than himself (I dunno, maybe an issue with the Zoom platform?), he started asking what the "protected classes" Arroyo had mentioned earlier were being protected from and I peaced out and didn't stick around to see if Arroyo would try to explain the legal concept of "protected classes" or hear what else the guy was upset with.

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Voting closed 55

The longtime resident in question tends to make abrasive remarks directed at city officials , neighbors or anyone else he decides deserves them frequently. It's a shame as I think it turns off potential future residents to the neighborhood , which is a great place to live , minus that one Thursday afternoon. The area has lots of huge old houses so the discussion of possible group homes ( as older residents move out of the area ) will likely continue as families don't seem to need or want to pay for four or five bedroom homes these days. Thanms to the police and Consalvo for dealing with this issue quickly the day it happened.

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Voting closed 24

Can I ask when you read about this? I found out yesterday and posted the link on HP neighbors. I also posted it on all the other HP pages. So those banned from neighbors would know as well.

I was in the meeting. I am looking for a recording of it because I was in a hockey rink at the time and couldn’t hear it all. In the last community zoom we had, he didn’t even show up or send his rep. The first one, he went. (Sent his rep but people kept asking where he was) and told us all how he thinks MORE money should be taken from the police budget. So with that being said, how is he going to remedy this shooting/gang situation—among plenty others, Ellis street, Fairmount projects to name a few when he is taking away actual resources and replacing it with the BEST team? I can send you a few of the emails and his response he finally decided to give.

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Voting closed 17

This is a very bad narrative. Suggesting that Zoom meetings only need to be posted in social media is making a terrible assumption that "everyone" is on Facebook or similar. Plenty of people do not use Facebook or have abandoned it over time for other systems or nothing at all. For any city department to expect they are reaching people this way is an incorrect assumption. And based on my own experience it will soon backfire.

In the last the city, or through neighborhood activists, would post meetings in the local press, or flyer a neighborhood. COVID has provided a solution to go to virtual meetings but has relieved them from actually reaching out to the people that should be included.

Sure the city has mailing lists for these things but they have not been well-supported. I have yet to get any notification of any Zoom meetings from my local "Mayors Office" rep or district city councilor. I get nothing from the city councilor and the Mayor's Office person just has the staff send our repetitive boiler plate with an occasional kitschy story. To coin the old commercials... "Where's the beef?"

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Voting closed 20

Two shootings in the area and he's looking to get city law changed and will respond with detail within 1 month. For something that happens all over Boston’s primarily residential neighborhoods? That's useless? Was he supposed to be there to take the bullet?

I don't get it.

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Voting closed 54

Last year there was a bunch of shootings in the fFairmount projects. It was brought to his attention and he promised to get to the bottom or it etc. Nothing was done, that we could see. Contacted Rob who immediately got down to business and got a police detail up there every night. Arroyo is always telling people to email him and I know for a fact after a community zoom about the rise in violent crime around here, people emailed him and no response. By himself or any member of his team. If he actually gets anything done besides toot his own horn, I would be so impressed.

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Voting closed 18

Looks like he responded here exactly as a district councilor should...

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Voting closed 16

Interesting saga. If it's the same Alex Edwards as the one at the video link below, you may also be dealing with the "Youngest landlord in the World".

https://www.thumbprintrealty.com/agents/85401-alex-e-edwards

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Voting closed 15

The child displayed in the video is Alex Edwards’ son. The video is exemplary to advocating generational wealth with the metaphor of “youngest landlord in the world” as displayed in the video. Alex and his wife purchased a home (not Beacon Street) on their son’s behalf. Alex Edwards has done A LOT of work in the community in advocating generational wealth and how to leverage homeownership to escape poverty. He took a chance at providing a program like JRI an opportunity to rent out his home to provide these youths as second chance at life. He is very aware of how traumatized the community may be of the recent incidents and acted quickly. He is well within his rights to do whatever he wants with his home.

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Voting closed 12

Interesting to me is that when they were trying to rent the units out last year, he said this about them, "Charm and character abound in this well maintained home."

That doesn't sound like a home that needs extensive repairs. So which is it?

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Voting closed 15

Is the city actually powerless to regulate this type of use? What about the rule deeming a house with more than 4 unrelated individuals to be a rooming house, subject to additional zoning and licensing restrictions?

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Voting closed 16

And Arroyo said it depends on exactly what sort of group facility it is, because some might be considered a "protected class" of people (i.e., they have constitutional rights to live there), which is why he said he needs to work with ISD to figure it out.

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Voting closed 22

I've never heard of a constitutional right for certain people to live in violation of zoning laws. I would find such a distinction offensive, if some people are allowed to live in a rooming house and others aren't. That seems entirely the opposite of what fair housing laws are supposed to guarantee.

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Voting closed 11