Image from “East Boston, Nuestra Casa” project; more featured throughout article, below. All taken by Jorge Caraballo.
Recent CAMD alumnus Jorge Caraballo ’17, Journalism, is no stranger to East Boston, known by locals as “Eastie.” East Boston is home to roughly 44,000 people, 57 percent of whom are Latino. Jorge, himself an immigrant from Colombia, is one of them. Despite the strong Latino presence in the neighborhood, the permanence of the community is uncertain – a subject that Jorge is currently exploring and addressing in his media project as part of his work in the Media Innovation track.
Like many areas in the city, East Boston has seen a significant amount of growth in recent years, and therefore is experiencing a much higher demand for housing. Despite the average prices of housing in East Boston rising consistently over recent years, the living wages of the Latino community have not seen comparable growth. For this reason, as is true in many other Boston neighborhoods, the residents of East Boston, who have called the neighborhood home for decades, are now being pushed out of their community due to rising rent costs as the neighborhood expands and develops.
Jorge is addressing the problems the residents of East Boston are facing through a series of photographs that will be printed as postcards and distributed in the neighborhood. The project is called East Boston, Nuestra Casa (East Boston, Our Home) – and the postcards will feature images of the neighborhood and its people, as well as facts about displacement, the rights of tenants, available legal resources, and calls for community action and solidarity.
“The first goal of this project is to inform the Latino community about this wave of displacement that is affecting them,” explained Jorge. “The second goal is to let them know about their rights as tenants and the initiatives that some NGOs and other members of the community are implementing to resist displacement and evictions. With an increasing number of East Boston residents being served eviction notices, it is coming to light that many of them are not aware of the rules and procedures surrounding this. Many residents are simply unaware of their rights when being told that they are being evicted.”
For this reason, local organizations as well as individuals such as Jorge are making strong efforts to work with East Boston residents so that they know and are able to execute their rights. For example, City Life is a nonprofit organization that focuses on housing issues. The group has worked extensively with the East Boston community, both to aid residents facing eviction as well as to reform housing laws in the city, promoting the Jim Brooks Community Stabilization Act, an ordinance backed by Boston’s Mayor Walsh with the goal of helping tenants who are being evicted without a just cause. Jorge is maximizing relationships and collaboration with groups like City Life to ensure the correct messages and action items are making their way to the right communities in East Boston.
“I would measure the success of this project in two different ways: As a journalist, I want to see more Latinos taking the decision to leave or to stay in Eastie based on reliable information and not on fear; and, as a member of the community, I want to foster solidarity among ourselves and to participate in a conversation that looks for solutions to this problem.”
This project has been a collaborative effort. Jorge worked on one phase of the project with three other Media Innovation students: Mathew Tota, Julianna Naves, and Giulia Afiune (who continues as a partner in the project today).