SBEA grew from an ad-hoc group of neighborhood leaders who met sporadically in 2004 to discuss common concerns regarding the oppression they faced—most of which grew from the Boston Housing Authority’s decision to settle families of color, most of them immigrants, in a neighborhood where they encountered linguistic, cultural, and racial barriers. They also experienced social isolation in a neighborhood with a history of unwelcoming hostile attitudes and actions toward people of color. This group later decided to form a nonprofit to have an identifiable presence in the neighborhood and the city. In 2008, SBEA became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
SBEA’s core constituents are primarily residents of three low-income housing projects: Mary Ellen McCormack Homes, Old Colony Homes, and D Street/West Broadway Homes, home to over 3,000 households. The majority are people of color (Black, Latino, Asian), many of them immigrants. It is an underserved and underrepresented population facing linguistic and cultural barriers. Those who are employed are primarily essential workers.
One goal for the 2022 year is to have representatives from all three developments and one representative for the South Boston residents who fall under the poverty level but are not residents of any of the BHA Developments. To create a space and a system where residents are empowered to bring change to their communities and have their voices heard in a quickly changing neighborhood. For these positions, we are taking on a political structure equivalent to that of the MA government by running campaign days, forums, and elections that will be open to all the residents. This method will serve two purposes: to energize and teach leadership to our residents and how the democratic process works—encouraging our residents to go out and vote in Massachusetts and Federal elections.
On the table for the new year are six committees. Those committees are the Advisory, Women’s, Elderly, LGBTQIA2S+, Youth’s, and Men’s Committees. All of which will be led by our residents. These committees will be overseeing and directing SBEA in their perspective areas. Each committee will meet at least once a month.
SBEA is passionate about equipping community members with the skills and knowledge to advocate for and create meaningful, sustainable solutions to the economic, social, educational, and political concerns they face—to eliminate disparities and combat systemic racism and inequities. It provides tenants with the training and tools to advocate for themselves and engage within their respective public housing task forces, state and federal offices, social service agencies, parent councils in schools, church councils, and officials or organizations where advocacy and activism can result in positive change in the quality of life in South Boston for all residents.
SBEA’s goal is to eliminate racism as it challenges social and racial injustices. SBEA seeks to educate the South Boston BHA tenant community on the history of social injustices and racism in the neighborhood and to find collective ways to challenge and change the historical and structural systems of racism that persist in creating social injustices. SBEA aligns anti-bias initiatives with the organization's strategic priorities. The board engages in development sessions that address diversity, inclusion, and equity within the governance, organizational structures, and workplace practices and carries that into their work in the community.
SBEA has deliberately changed the makeup of its board to represent better the community it serves. Whereas most members and trustees have been Latino since SBEA’s inception, the organization is becoming more reflective of residents (Black, white, Asian, Latino) within its membership, board, and volunteer groups and in recruiting new board members. SBEA has instituted internal conversations at the board level about racism, oppression, white privilege, and related topics.
SBEA is committed to building the capacity of the South Boston community to undertake the collective action needed to achieve the organization’s vision of a vibrant BIPOC community where all residents contribute to change that leads to personal advancement and community improvement in the context of increasing social justice and anti-racism.
SBEA is working on creating a very diverse fundraising portfolio. We plan to appeal to all the businesses in South Boston and the Boston area for support or donations. We have set up PayPal, Donorbox, and Amazon Smile accounts for donations from any who wishes to contribute. We intend to send an annual appeal letter to solicit donations from banks operating in South Boston and to expand fundraising efforts via social media. Together with the help of the community with planning and volunteering, SBEA looks forward to having fundraising events.