Tammy Gaultney’s first stint in jail came when she was 36 years old. A pimp had brought her from her hometown in Muskegan, Mich., to Santa Monica, Calif., where she was arrested and charged with prostitution. “Drugs led me to do things I never thought I would do,” Gaultney said. In the six years since her first arrest, she has been charged with prostitution 37 times across four states.“I lost my kids because of drugs, so I took to the streets. … Ever since then I’ve been constantly in jail all over the country,” she said in May, while walking laps around the dog park near the Haymarket Rehabilitation Center, where she attended Prostitution Anonymous meetings and worked to get clean.Gaultney has wispy brown hair and a soft voice, and lets out a small, self-conscious laugh when she mentions particularly unfunny things, like the abuse she said she suffered at the hands of police and pimps.
The Rev. José Landaverde sits cross-legged in front of the glass building at 525 W. Van Buren St., his back pressed against the wheel of a police officer’s bicycle, arms linked with two women. There is no sign that marks the building as an immigration court, but Landaverde knows the building well, having attended hundreds of deportation hearings on the fifth floor. A sign scribbled in childish writing rests against his legs, “Obama, don’t deport my mommy.” As protestors chant, “The people united will never be divided,” he quietly mouths the words while eyeing the police behind him. He is waiting to be arrested.Forty-five minutes later, he will be, along with another activist, when they refuse to move from the doors. Landaverde estimates he’s been arrested seven to 10 times, after more than a decade of immigration activism and his trademark civil disobedience in Chicago.
When reading a 2006 Massachusetts state audit of public housing, lawyers at the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute noticed a concerning figure in the appendix: More than 1,000 of the state’s 45,600 public housing units were sitting empty for more than two months, three times the state limit of 21 days. “That was a number that made us stand up and look,” said Annette Duke, staff attorney for the institute. Duke partnered with the Massachusetts Union of Public Housing Tenants to bring their vacancy concerns to state legislators. “When we talked to legislators, we could see they were shocked and concerned. [These units] were just sitting there unused, when [we] have a homelessness problem.”
Massachusetts wasn’t the first place to highlight the issue.