For the past few years, Boston and immediately surrounding communities have been beset by rising rents, rising housing prices and rapid gentrification. At the same time, many parts of Boston have felt the pressure of increasing density and congestion and a continuous stream of new development proposals in neighborhoods.
My response to these related problems has been to push for zoning law changes that would encourage more communities to shoulder their share of housing development, especially affordable housing development. The legislature did pass a landmark bill addressing this concern in December. Additionally, I have been centrally focused on improving public transportation to reduce congestion.
And then COVID hit. I believe that COVID has fundamentally changed the housing market in the core of Boston, with rents softening up and the pressure of gentrification diminishing or reversing. The new challenge has been to make sure that the unemployed have the necessary resources to stay in their homes. They may need assistance even if they receive rent concessions from their landlords.
It remains to be seen how markets will respond post-COVID, whenever that is, but I personally believe that we will be in a new normal in which the concerns about rising rents and congestion are no longer central.
The main challenge in the coming decade is likely to be to make sure that urban jobs for low and moderate income people are preserved or transformed in a positive way.
Photo by: edwardboches.com