It Starts At Home: Chelsea Youth Want More Affordable Housing

Look around Chelsea and you'll see a number of challenges that threaten the well-being of youth and families in our city - from gentrification and rising rents to unemployment, gang violence, and poor health. Children and teens in Chelsea know these issues all too well. Gentrification is a major concern for our youth and access to safe, stable, and affordable housing for more families could be a game changer. That's why youth from the Chelsea Collaborative's RIOT Squad are laying the foundation for a community organizing campaign focused on affordable housing as a strategy for improving youth outcomes and opportunities in Chelsea. The RIOT Squad is a group of six high school students who work as community organizers in Chelsea to voice their concerns, share their experiences, and mobilize their peers to drive change on issues that impact youth lives.

Gentrification and lack of affordable housing leave so many of our youth and families in constant crisis, as they struggle to pay the bills and secure their homes. Now more than ever, youth feel the pressure to work year-round to support their families, even though their jobs often interfere with their education and other opportunities, such as unpaid internships in career pathways. Many worry that they'll never be able to live on their own with the high cost of living in Chelsea.

Other youth find it hard getting to school on time and prepared - if at all - coming from homes that are crowded with family members, without quiet spaces to study, rest, or get ready for the day. And for youth who don't feel they have a safe space at home, it can be easy for them to find that comfort on the streets where they are recruited by gangs.

To build a foundation for their affordable housing campaign, youth have conducted extensive research and testified at city council hearings and in meetings with state legislators. They've also supported Chelsea's recently-revived Affordable Housing Trust Fund Board with collecting surveys assessing housing needs in Chelsea. The RIOT Squad's involvement helped make the surveys accessible to our Latino immigrant community and ensure their voices are heard.

GET INVOLVED

Join the RIOT Squad and other youth and adult organizers on Tuesday, June 6th at 6:00pm at the Chelsea Collaborative (318 Broadway, Chelsea). The focus of the meeting will be the Innes Apartment housing construction. All youth and parents are welcome! For more info, contact norielizd@chelseacollab.org or call 617-889-6080.

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