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Christmas Carolers rebuffed at City Hall and RI Housing



Both Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza and Rhode Island Housing Director Barbara Fields refused to leave their offices for a few minutes to listen to Christmas Carols from members of DARE’s Tenant and Homeowner Association (THA). The carols were rewritten to deliver important community messages about THA’s demands for the rehabilitation of Barbara Jordan II apartments in South Providence, long- term affordability, local hiring, and resident control and ownership of the new development.

The carolers also delivered holiday cards with a picture of the abandoned, degraded Barbara Jordan II development and the message, “Wish I Could Live Here!” The postcards also included RI Housing’s address, and a message about THA’s demands for the redevelopment project on the reverse side.

The demands include:

  • Take the land out of the for-profit market for 99 years using a land trust,
  • Ensure resident ownership and control through a Tenants Union, representation on the Board of Directors and an eventual Tenant Cooperative,
  • Ensure 100 percent local (using census tracts with high unemployment, crime, and concentration of folks with criminal records) people of color, women and LGBTQI hiring practices for all the work on the project.

The carolers were joined by members of the What Cheer? Brigade.

In the first video the carolers enter the Rhode Island Housing offices at 44 Westminster Street in Providence and are told that executive director Barbara Fields would not be joining them. Malchus Mills, DARE Board member and THA leader, decided that the carolers should sing anyway.

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In the second video the carolers enter Providence City Hall but are not allowed to enter the offices of Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza, who was in a “private meeting” and could not interrupt that meeting for the five minutes it would have taken to give the carolers his attention.

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About the Author

Steve Ahlquist is Uprise RI's co-founder and lead reporter. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.