Rose on home and homelessness

Text and pics by Rosalie Tirella

Home …

End-of-the-day slice of pizza at Highland Street’s BOOMERS PIZZA. It’s pepperoni. They ran out of plain slices. Jett and Lilac got (most of) the pepperoni slices😉.

BOOMERS PIZZA on Highland Street has the best pizza!

… Seeing I didn’t grow up in a cottage, a stand alone house that my family owned, I’m not too keen on houses. They always seemed like such a big responsibility. Apartments I like – they’re in the thick of city life – city “personified.” But lately, because of my situation I think, I’ve become sentimental about HOME. I am very interested in houses and porches and front yards … and the people who live there …

Driving by this little white house in Oxford today made me almost cry. Totally unremarkable house but it MOVED me! Made me all emotional! Why?!

The Oxford house …

I think it was the front porch. The front porch with its ornate posts. Several posts with curly cue tops all lined up in a row. It felt vintage. It felt 1940s – mostly reminded me of the Jimmy Stewart Christmas movie IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, the scene outside Mrs. Bailey’s house – which looked a lot like this one in Oxford.

Ma and her grown son George Bailey, played by James Stewart, are outside, in front of their front porch. It’s night time and there’s a wedding reception/party going on inside – George’s younger brother Harry just got married to his college sweetheart and the whole town, Bedford Falls, is celebrating.

Except George. He is lagging behind Harry even though he’s a smarter, wiser, finer person. The scene is very sweet – Ma Bailey gently pushes George out of the front yard, playfully hinting that Mary, lovely and back home from college, would love a visit from him. Stewart says: shucks no, she’s not for me, Ma … Ma says, Why George, Mary lights up just like a fire-fly when she sees you!
She slaps his ol’ fedora on his handsome head and literally pushes him out the front gate. With gentleness and a good mother’s wisdom and love.

It’s such a quiet, intimate little scene full of whispers and smiles and a hug and a kiss, practically on the lips! All played out in front of a house that looks like this Oxford house – an average, unexceptional house. But it’s the backdrop to George and his mom’s love for each other. Which makes it a remarkable house. A home.


Homeless Crisis is Worcester

Today I had an interesting conversation with a staffer at Central Mass Housing Alliance on Salisbury Street. The staffer said CMHA meets all the time with City officials re: Worcester’s affordable housing crisis/homeless crisis. They meet with Mayor Joe Petty, City Manager Ed Augustus, district city councilors…over and over again. They repeatedly tell our city officials, as they give them CMHA reports: LOOK AT THESE STATS. PEOPLE ARE LIVING IN THEIR CARS. WORCESTER RENTS ARE ASTRONOMICAL. PLEASE DO SOMETHING!

She told me: The city officials are politely dismissive of her and the group. City poo-bas take CMHA reports and thank them for their reports. … That’s it. No empathy. No disbelief at the $2,000 rents. Not an iota of an idea or suggestion. No offerings of emergency help. Or just plain help. No game plan.

So many people sleeping on the sidewalks in Worcester!

Re: the tiny houses that were to be built for the homeless in Worcester, she said the City “has been holding the money for three years.” And not released it so CMHA and other housing leaders can hire contractors, architects, construction workers. … I assume she means the millions of dollars Worcester has received in federal and state COVID funds. Lying fallow as our city leaders lie to the papers about their plans to help the city’s workers/working poor who is are being pushed out of Worcester in droves.

A former city worker told me a few hours later, after I recounted the distressing conversation: They’ll never do anything. They’re looking to attract outsiders… It’s not about helping locals.

I agree. If CMHA is lobbying city leaders every week for more affordable housing…talking about the housing crisis in Worcester… giving city officials and city councilors reports with suggestions, and city leaders are smiling and exchanging pleasantries but doing nothing, then they’re telling us working people/poorer folks: WE DON’T GIVE A HOOT THAT RENTS ARE CLOSE TO $2000. FORGET RENT CONTROL. FORGET MORE HOUSING VOUCHERS. FORGET THE TINY HOME VILLAGES…. We’re gonna drag our feet on this issue until you go away, until the issues are forgotten, until the street folks perish.

Shame on Worcester’s mayor, city manager and city councilors.
Are Worcester’s city leaders ever gonna use the city’s millions$$ in federal COVID funds? The money was supposed to fund local projects that are meant to support a city or town’s poor and underrepresented communities!