By Seth Daniel
Major changes have come quickly for the leadership, and even the name, of the tenants organization representing thousands of residents in the Bunker Hill Housing Development, with long-time president Betty Carrington stepping aside and a new board and new president leading under a new name.
New President Tiara Murphy said they have new leadership and a board of nine people, some old and some new. First and foremost, she said, they have changed the name from the Tenants Task Force to the Charlestown Residents Alliance (CRA).
“The Alliance really means ‘together,’” she said in an interview late last week. “We all felt it takes an alliance to build this community. I personally also didn’t like ‘Tenant Task Force.’ Task Force sounds like public safety. We’re not out here with flashlights trying to hunt people down. A lot of us didn’t like the name. It was actually all of the board members’ idea to change the name.”
Murphy said that has been done within the last month, and they have already taken on the new name of the CRA, and will be known as that from here on out.
She also said Carrington is not leaving the development, but has stepped aside from leadership after many years of heading up the former Task Force.
“She is still doing what she wants to do in the community on her own,” said Murphy. “We thank her for her years of doing what she did and the time she put into it. I was recruited by Betty Carrington. But just like the Patriots though, when one goes down, then another one comes in to do the job. She wanted to pursue her other endeavors and help that way, but it’s a new day here.”
Joining Murphy will be Vice President Mai Tai Davis, Treasurer Phil Wright and Secretary Mimi Tovar. Board members are Karla Wert, Nancy Martinez, Abdi Abdullah, Jennifer Edouard, and Bernard Kendall.
Right now, she said the change will be set for awhile, but CRA attorney Jay Rose indicated that they are targeting an election of officers one year from now. Elections, he said, are not allowed on a tenants organization when a major renovation is going on, such as the One Charlestown development.
That brings up one of the biggest platforms for Murphy and the board.
Murphy said they want to closely monitor One Charlestown and work in a relationship of mutual respect with the developer, Corcoran Jennison/SunCal. The CRA has hired a financial advisor, Re-Cap, to look over the financials of the project and advise the CRA and the tenants as to what is happening with the project and whether the 1,110 deeply-subsidized units are replaced one-to-one.
“We know that interest rates are going to go up,” she said. “What happens to this project if they go way up? The Alliance wants to make sure that the final details of the deal anticipate interest rates going up and costs going up and there’s a built in understanding that the 1,110 its are the first thing prioritized. Their main goal should be the 1,110 units that were replaced. Other things may have to go or be cut, but that has to come first. It’s been so far, so good with Re-Cap. That’s important to us. They’re at meetings when we need them to be there. They are ready to dive into the finances when we can get them.”
That same train of thought carries over to when the development is rebuilt. Murphy said they want to make sure any management group or ownership representative treat the low-income residents with respect.
“Down the line when there’s new management and the developers are gone…that everyone down there is treated with respect,” she said. “That’s a long-term goal.”
Murphy came to the position through her son, getting involved in the ‘Smart from the Start’ program when she moved into Bunker Hill about 18 months ago. Once getting involved there, she said she wanted to do more, and soon she found herself leading the new organization.
“I work for Jump Start, which is an AmeriCorps program,” she said. “There are a lot of kids that are behind and aren’t reading like they should be. We need to get some really good programs here that will help them. They need to read at a third grade level when they start third grade. That is very important.”
Beyond that, she said they’re ready to advocate for the tenants 24/7.
“If you need help with anything; if something is going on and you need help, we can be your voice,” said Murphy. “We are here for the community.”