Allston Brighton Community Development Corporation

Working together, building community

 By: Catherine Middelmann, Development and Communications Intern

Homeownership, while exciting, can feel incredibly daunting. Home prices across Massachusetts remain high, and less properties—from single-family homes to condominiums—are going on the market (The Boston Foundation). The locals of Allston Brighton know this issue well; in Allston, homes have sold for 35.6% more than they did a year ago, while in Brighton home prices have slightly decreased from April 2023 but remain high.

While Homeownership is a key component in a family’s ability to achieve financial stability, it is often out of reach for individuals that identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and low-to-moderate income (LMI) households due to systemic racial oppression and a lack of generational wealth building. “Regionwide, 65 percent of Black residents and 70 percent of Latino residents are renters, compared to just 33 percent of White residents and 46 percent of Asian residents. These disparities exist across all community types, although gaps vary in size” (The Boston Foundation). Homeownership is therefore a social justice issue.

It is especially difficult to break into homeownership when looking at an area with high prices and low inventory, such as Allston Brighton. Homeownership in the area is already low at around 10% for Allston and 22.5% for Brighton, compared to a 36% homeownership rate citywide in Boston. In 2021, there were no mortgages written for Black residents in Allston (Boston Globe). The racial homeownership gap across Boston has widened over the past decade due to rising home prices and limited supply.

Increasing homeownership is a necessary route to increase overall equity in our community, this much is clear. Unfortunately, it can feel less clear how to advocate for it. At the Allston Brighton CDC, we are doing our part to increase homeownership and have guidance on what you can do as a hopeful homebuyer, too. One way to reduce the gap in homeownership is through homeownership education, which makes the journey to homeownership more accessible to buyers of color and LMI first-time homebuyers. You can take a class yourself and educate your peers, or simply promote existing first-time homebuyer classes to your community.

Additionally, there are local legislative actions you can support and advocate for. As a constituent, you can tell your legislators to support bills that promote equitable homeownership and advance the cause of homeownership and housing affordability overall. The Citizens’ Housing & Planning Association (CHAPA) has a list of legislative priorities you can contact your legislator about including:

  • Governor Healey’s Affordable Homes Act, a bill that seeks to increase the amount of money available for affordable housing, reduces barriers to the production and preservation of housing, and gives communities the tools to develop more housing where they need it. H.4138
    • See this template from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) for guidance
  • Expanding and improving our state rental voucher programs: Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP) and Alternative Housing Voucher Program (AHVP) to create more deeply affordable and accessible homes while helping people struggling to pay rent.
    • MRVP: H.1351/S.888
    • AHVP: H.1305/S.884
  • Preserving the rights of public housing residents in redeveloped properties to ensure housing stability for current and future tenants. H.1340/S.857
  • Establishing an office of Fair Housing and Fair Housing Trust Fund to help combat housing discrimination at all levels. H.1377/S.866
  • Providing legal representation in eviction proceedings for low-income tenants and low-income owner-occupants. H.1731/S.864
  • Establishing a Zero Carbon Renovation Fund (ZCRF) to support deep energy retrofits of housing, schools, and institutional buildings. H.3232/S.881

Call or email your elected officials to make your voice heard!

To take it a step further, join or form a pro-housing advocacy group in your community. Existing groups include Housing for All in Action, Livable Newton, Housing Medford, and more. CHAPA has a municipal engagement initiative to help grassroots advocacy groups get off the ground, as well as resources for groups looking to try it on their own.

It is intimidating to see the extent of housing issues when you want to do something about it, but it is important to remember that taking the first step into advocacy is a valiant effort. Advocacy is the best way for you as an individual to influence the housing market.

©Allston Brighton CDC | 18R Shepard Street, Suite 100 | Brighton, MA 02135 | p: 617.787.3874 | f: 617.787.0425 | TTY: 711