Housing should be for owners

March 30, 2007
By

In response to Scott Hoffert’s letter published in the March 16 Jamaica Plain Gazette: My wife and I have lived in Jamaica Plain for only 2.5 years. In that time, we have grown to love most of what the community has to offer. The people are great; there is a fanatic sense of community from our neighbors; it’s a wonderful place to be new parents; and we particularly like our street in Forest Hills.

Unfortunately, the Forest Hills T station is a mess. That T station is an aggregator of negative activity. Flagrant loitering, drinking and other such activities put a big damper on the Forest Hills and Jamaica Plain experience. Walking home at night from the T station can often be a “hold-onto-your-bag/laptop-wallet-and-cell-phone” type of experience.

If what I have heard about the Urban Edge proposal is correct—creating mixed income rental housing at the St. Andrew’s site—this puts many of us between the proverbial rock and a hard place in terms of the JP experience and our ability to stay long-term.

At a recent kid’s birthday party, one parent said, “You don’t see many kids between the ages of 5 and 10 around JP,” and she’s right. Part of that is the lack of faith in Boston Public Schools (BPS), for which Young Achievers is definitely part of the solution—but not at the expense of the rate of crime that could go along with a large, subsidized rental property.

In our time in JP, we have met many great people and families. Some of them staked their roots in this community many generations ago and continue to live here today. Then there are families like ours—young professionals with young children, hoping that the good continues to outweigh the bad so we can stay in this community and stake our roots here as well—all the while enjoying and appreciating the best of what JP and Boston have to offer.

The ideal scenario is finding a developer and partner for Young Achievers who wants to use the available land at St. Andrew’s to build properties for sale to mixed-income families and a commitment from BPS that Young Achievers will stay on the expanded site long-term. Home ownership brings with it a sense of pride and community that many JP residents share. Three steps forward is progress. One step forward and two steps back is not.

M. Lai
Jamaica Plain