It’s a group that began in 2009 when Eagle Hill residents collaborated with the Boston Police and the City of Boston to address problem properties in the neighborhood.
Now three years later East Boston’s Problem Property Task Force (PPTF) is as strong as ever and showing they mean business.
Last week, as a result of numerous and continuous community complaints of illegal sales of alcohol to the public from the occupants of 13 Marion St., officers initiated an investigation into the property and its occupants.
As a result of District-7’s investigation, Luz Lozada, 57, and Jorge Lozada, 53, both of East Boston were arrested and charged with Illegal Sale, Delivery or Furnishing of Alcohol and keepers of Disorderly Home.
The home was on the PPTF’s list of problem properties due to the issues of motorists double parking in front of the address, playing loud music while awaiting their alleged illegal liquor orders and loud boisterous pedestrian traffic arriving and leaving in the early hours of the morning.
As part of this investigation, a plain-clothes officer was directed to go to 13 Marion St. with some marked money to try and purchase some alcohol. The officer went to the address and met at the door by suspect Jorge Lozada. The suspect told the officer to come in because the police were outside.
The officer went in and then asked suspect Lozada for 10 Coronas and five Bud Lights. The suspect went into the back of a curtained door and came back with the requested items in a bag at a cost of $30.00. The officer then handed the suspect $40.00 in marked money and was handed $10.00 in change.
Lozada then lead the officer to the outside door where he was placed under arrest.
Shortly after placing Lozada under arrest officers heard Lozada’s wife exit through the curtained door and immediately try to retreat back into the apartment. Suspect Luz Lozada was then detained and placed under arrest and charged with the same offenses as her husband.
Absentee landlords have long been a problem in Eastie. That coupled with properties that have been neglected or cause a nuisance in the neighborhood– whether through late night parties, overcrowding, or illegal activity–had pushed some residence to the edge, especially in Eagle Hill.
In response to this epidemic the EHCA formed the PPTF to investigate problem properties and encourage landlords to keep their houses clean, noise free and in compliance with occupancy ordinances.
EHCA President Debra Cave explained that the PPTF would not conduct ‘witch-hunts’ but simply try to work with property owners, the city, neighbors and, if need be, the police to reign in problem properties.
“What we were hearing from residents were horror stories,” said Cave. “People were living next to vacant building, lots, or residential properties that were causing harm to people’s quality of life.”
What initially sparked the community group’s interest in forming a task force was a problem property on Marion Street. The vacant building had become a haven for drinking and drug addicts and was a serious annoyance to neighbors.
Working with City Councilor Sal LaMattina, the Mayor’s Office and other community leaders, EHCA was able to solve the problem.
“It’s exciting to see that this group has gone beyond its initial mission of historic preservation and restoration and is able to now tackle bigger issues and get results,” commented LaMattina.
The group is also working with ISD and the Boston Police to crack down on illegal rooming houses in Eagle Hill or tenants of legal apartments that are involved in drug dealing or other crimes.
“There are special circumstances when the police can get involved,” said Cave. “Police can work with a landlord to speed up the eviction process if it is found that a tenant is running an illegal rooming house or in involved in drugs, gang activity or other crimes.”
Boston Police Officer Dan Simmons said it’s important to have groups like the EHCA involved in quality of life issues.
“It’s really important to report problem properties,” said Simmons. “You (EHCA) are our eyes and ears and if we see a pattern develop at an address, say three to five reports, we can dedicate the appropriate resources to tackle the problem.”