Charlestown Nonprofit For Kids With Autism Says It's Being Evicted

CHARLESTOWN, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — In Charlestown, 336 Main St. has been home to "Special Townies" for 14 years and now, the recreational center for kids and young adults with autism and other disabilities says it's being evicted.

Debra Hughes with Special Townies said it's because the Mishawum Park Tenants Association wants to make room for more office space. Special Townies is a non-profit run by volunteers.

"It's a safe place where they can be themselves, and they're accepted no matter what they're doing," said Hughes.

She started Special Townies nearly 20 years ago, to give her non-verbal son with autism and kids like him a place to go. 

"I can't register my son for the Boys and Girls Club, he's not accepted. There's nothing in this community for people with disabilities," said Hughes.

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She adds, it's also a place parents can turn to. "We even have parents that are home, kids are having a tough time and they have a key, and they can come down here and watch a movie with their child," said Hughes.

She also said kids with autism depend on consistency and it would be hard for them to adjust to another place.

Hughes said the building also, allows them to get out of the house and have something to do. They started a petition to stop the tenant's association from forcing them out.

Tenant Association Response:

In response, the Mishawum Park Tenants Association said in a statement that the ongoing situation is "not an eviction," saying that Special Townies' lease had expired last October, and that they had been an at-will tenant since then.

The Tenants Association said it offered Special Townies an option to move to a storefront or stay, but have their space reduced by one-third, and that Special Townies had verbally agreed to the second option.

The Association also said after plans were drawn up for the second option, it had tried to meet with the leadership of Special Townies "several times in December and January 2021, we were told each time that the tenant – now a tenant-at-will – was unavailable."

Teamsters Local 25 is paying Special Townies' legal fees to fight the action.

WBZ NewsRadio's Suzanne Sausville (@wbzSausville) Reports

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(Photo: Suzanne Sausville/WBZ NewsRadio)

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