1.Relationship to Allston/Brighton:
As the Director for Charlesview, Inc. my relationship to the community is varied. First, I represent the needs and interests of 240 households residing at Charlesview. Second, I represent Charlesview, Inc. and its mission to advance the well-being of individuals and families and promote the diversity and vibrancy of the community through our housing, program collaborations at our community center and funding organizations in the community through our charitable fund. I participate in a number of steering committees, task forces and Impact Advisory Groups to promote diversity, affordable housing and responsible transportation planning.
2. How has Allston/Brighton Changed:
A/B is feeling the effects of rampant and unplanned market rate and commercial development by institutional neighbors and for-profit developers. This development has priced out many working class individuals and families who either can’t afford the units being developed or can’t find right sized units to fit their family needs. We are losing families who might put down roots in the community. This loss will impact our schools and deplete the number of people who will engage in community dialogue and volunteerism.
Transportation and equitable transportation options are impacted by this development and there is little forward thinking to address the concerns of car traffic and multi-modal transportation. The Pandemic has exacerbated the economic and racial inequalities felt by many of our neighbors including food insecurity, housing insecurity, and healthcare access. I could go on and on but will stop there….
3. Challenges with housing affordability:
There is no opportunity for new affordable housing development as land and property has been scooped up by institutional neighbors and for-profit developers. The developers have the City’s support is building the smallest percentage of Inclusionary units as possible at 70% of the AMI, effectively pricing out most A/B residents. The second part of the challenge is convincing the institutions to give up some of their land for affordable/mixed income developments and convincing the for-profit developers to partner for increased affordability in proposed developments. The cost to build housing in Boston is also a significant challenge.
4. My view of affordable/mixed housing is that it needs to be high quality, well managed, with access to affordable transportation, jobs, services, supports, and green space. It needs to be subsidized for a variety of incomes for the long term
5. Other thoughts: Given the shortage of affordable housing we need to get creative as to how we retrofit many of the office buildings that I believe will remain empty post pandemic. We will need to access what I hope will be significant funding from the infrastructure bill to create new subsidy, build new housing and preserve existing affordable housing developments for the long term. Preservation deals such as Charlesview’s that not only preserve but increase the number of housing units are important to find and through partnerships between for-profit and non-profit developers get the redeveloped. We also need to pressure the City on its lack of attention to creating truly affordable rental and homeownership opportunities both in A/B and across the City. Finally we need to develop more of a regional approach to affordable housing in partnership with our neighboring cities and towns.
Photo by: edwardboches.com