Friends, neighbors, and elected officials gathered on the 10th floor of Fenway Health on March 28 for the Fenway CDC’s 46th Annual Meeting. Before the speaking portion, people gathered to enjoy a light dinner and spectacular views of the Fenway area.
Executive Director Leah Camhi led off the meeting by announcing that it is now free to become a member of the Fenway CDC. “This has been an amazing year,” Camhi said. “We are very, very grateful to our tiny but mighty staff for making this all possible.”
Camhi spoke about several of the CDC’s accomplishments in 2018, and especially being a driving force in bringing Fenway Porchfest to over 25 venues across the neighborhood. It was so successful, she said, that they will be ramping it up this June 15 in 35 different locations with a total of 70-80 bands.
She also discussed short-term Airbnb reform, and that the CDC was “instrumental” in working to stop Airbnb from taking over Boston. She said that they estimated that Airbnb and short-term hotel stays were taking 6,000 rental units off the market. Working with the City Council and the mayor’s office, along with several other organizations, the CDC helped to pass an ordinance at the city level that eventually passed at the state level, as well to regulate these rentals. “We are very excited about that change being made,” Camhi said.
The Fenway CDC also acquired 97 units at Newcastle-Saranac in the South End less than a year ago, according to Board President Greg Haig. The property was acquired to protect the displacement of tenants and preserve the affordability of the units. Resident Rahel Berhe said that she and other residents are grateful for a “safe haven,” and “a place to rest our heads at night.”
“We enjoy the parks, we take advantage of our libraries and activities that the South End has to offer,” Berhe said. “We really love our city. We’re special because we bring diversity to the South End.”
Sarah Jenness provided an update on some of the development in the area, such as the 60 Kilmarnock Project and the Our Lady’s Guild House.
Community service awards were then presented to several members of the community who have shown outstanding dedication to the community, and new Board members were elected. The Joyce Foster Community Impact Award was also presented to former Rep. Bryon Rushing.
The meeting ended with a presentation by Dr. Sanjiv Chopra and Gina Vild of Harvard Medical School about their book, “The Two Most Important Days: How to Fund Your Purpose and Live a Happier, Healthier Life.” Chopra and Vild shared ways to be happier and engaged the audience by interacting with them and answering questions.