I’ve lived in Allston-Brighton for 10 years and have watched the neighborhood change over time. Friends who once lived in the neighborhood keep moving away from Boston, because they can no longer afford to live here. For artists and musicians, Allston has been welcoming for decades and provided affordable housing near workspace and performance space, but this has slowly changed. Once affordable live/work buildings have been torn down and replaced with market-rate housing outside of the reach of the majority of Allston-Brighton residents.
I think Allston-Brighton’s biggest challenge with affordable housing is its supply. There simply aren’t enough units that the majority of our neighborhood would consider affordable. Even units built under the city’s inclusionary development policy are out of reach to many in the artist community here. I consider myself lucky since I was able to move into one of these city-deemed affordable units, but for years, I worked two, sometimes three, jobs to be able to afford it still. We need to put pressure on developers and city agencies to redefine affordable not based on a federal or state mandate, but on what is needed most in our city. Affordable for myself is very different from affordable to the thousands of service workers who call Allston-Brighton home. Everyone has a right to safe, affordable housing, and when I advocate for more affordable housing in buildings, I think of these folks in my neighborhood.
The city’s inclusionary development policy is not perfect, but it is currently under review to better fit the city’s needs. Its advantages include controlled rent that won’t increase drastically each year. It helps ease my anxiety of a sudden rent change, so I can be better prepared financially when it does increase slightly. I can save for emergencies or even someday maybe, purchasing a house or condo of my own. I want all of my community to have this safety net, and I’ll continue to fight for it for them.
Photo by: edwardboches.com