What’s your relationship to Allston-Brighton?
I have lived in Allston-Brighton since 2006 (I just celebrated 15 years last month!). My experience in Allston-Brighton has also been my experience of becoming an adult because I moved here when I was just 19. In Allston-Brighton I’ve spent these 15 years going through important friendships, relationships, self-discoveries, and identities — always with the backdrop of Allston-Brighton.
Now I also work at a coffee shop in the neighborhood, as well as naming my business after this place. It really has a meaningful place in my life!
How has Allston-Brighton changed over the years?
When I think of Allston-Brighton, I think of change. I’m more likely to notice things that have managed to stick around or stay the same because it just feels so rare. This isn’t a bad thing, although sometimes it does feel personal – like with Sunset closing on Brighton Ave, or Great Scott. The most glaring change is the new and completely unaffordable construction everywhere.
What is Allston-Brighton’s biggest challenge with affordable housing?
That it doesn’t meaningfully exist. I make about 40% of Area Median Income, which isn’t even enough of an income to qualify for most affordable housing options. So not only can I not afford the housing that would meet my needs, I can’t even afford to not afford it. I’m just plain disqualified from a majority of options. What upsets me about seeing these new buildings go up is just that when I see them I know: that’s not for me or anyone I know. That’s a really disempowering feeling.
What would/does an affordable home mean for you?
It would mean a great deal for my mental health. To not have to compromise on the living situation I’d like — which is to be able to have my own apartment — and to come home every day to a living situation that lets me rest and recharge and meet my needs the way I want. I’m someone who thrives when they have their own space.
It would mean that I could have my family to visit and stay with me. I could have friends over. I can’t do that now because I always have to live with roommates and it’s not convenient or comfortable to invite people into my home (COVID aside!). I wouldn’t have to work my second job — which is remote — in my bedroom.
Those things are all a big deal to me. It feels like I’m asking for too much and that worries me, because it’s really not too much to ask.
How would your opportunities/quality of life change if you didn’t have to worry about rent going up?
Well, to put it bluntly, I could keep living here. I wouldn’t have to leave the city in order to finally get my own place. Nothing would make me happier than my own one bedroom apartment on some leafy side street near the B line, but that’s financially impossible with current housing costs.
The idea of moving to a new city is a huge stressor, as well as leaving my friends and the neighborhood I love. However, the idea of compromising on this need any longer feels worse. It’s honestly a pretty gross situation to be in.
Imagine if I could just afford to live where I wanted, the way I wanted? A neighborhood full of people not stressing about basic needs and happy to be here?
I’d love that for us. It’s actually an option too, it just takes the right people with power being willing to choose it.