News & Events

BCDC Tenant Organizer, Bonnie Bastien

Bonnie Bastien, Tenant Organizer, Brookline Community Development CorporationHi! My name is Bonnie Bastien (she/her) and I am the Tenant Organizer for BCDC. I want to take a moment to share a little bit about myself. I am a passionate justice and equity activist, community organizer, and a Brookline Town Meeting Member in Precinct 5. My background is in art and art administration. About 10 years ago I became an activist and advocate for issues around mass incarceration and prison abolition. In 2020, I co-founded Mutual Aid Brookline at the beginning of the pandemic to meet the critical needs in Brookline. That initiative lasted for over 2 years and is something I will always be very proud of. Today, I am lucky enough to serve my community as a tenant organizer with BCDC. I couldn’t be more happy about that.

I have been a renter in Brookline for over 20 years. Due to the high cost of living here, I have always lived with housemates. I have been married for over 13 years and I have a daughter in 4th grade. We have had mostly good experiences with it, but it can be complicated and often not ideal with my family, as you can imagine. But this is how we survive in Brookline.

Throughout the 20+ years I have lived here I have been dealing with neglectful landlords, unsafe living conditions, and enormous rent hikes. For instance, 2 years ago my rent was raised $800 over a 3 month period. That is a catastrophic increase. I don’t know anyone who would be prepared to absorb that kind of monthly increase, but because we have a housemate we were able to find an arrangement that works until we can find another living arrangement that suits our very specific needs. I assumed that after that kind of increase in rent that we could expect an increase in responsiveness to our requests for repairs – like the rotting shingles falling off the house and letting water in, the storm window that fell off the house last spring because of a rotted window frame, and the front porch that is falling apart. I was wrong.

I share these stories because I want to make it clear that I understand how difficult it can be to live in Brookline. I didn’t understand my rights as a tenant and I didn’t understand the leverage I could use to advocate for myself. I was lucky to have a friend that was a tenants’ rights attorney that was willing to sit down with me and show me where to find information and the tools I needed to advocate for myself. This is why I started BCDC’s Renter Resources Project. Everyone should have a place to go to access this information and resources. It’s critically necessary and I hope you find it useful.

My drop-in office hours: Wednesdays and Thursdays, 10am-5pm
You can also call, text, or email to schedule a time that works better for you
Contact info: 617-942-0332