New housing should sustain diversity

April 27, 2007
By

This is an exciting time to be a part of the Jamaica Plain community, particularly in the Forest Hills neighborhood. New developments bring the possibility to make our neighborhood a more beautiful and more inviting place, to lessen traffic jams and increase pedestrian access.

As neighbors who have lived, worked and volunteered in Jamaica Plain we are excited by the new possibilities but we want to ensure that our neighborhood remains a place that is comfortable for many different kinds of people, including those of lesser financial means and people of color. We are particularly concerned about a survey that is being circulated about the development of the St. Andrew’s church property on Walk Hill Street. While we appreciate the effort to find out more about what our neighbors want to see happen on the St. Andrew’s property, we do have a problem with some of the language in the survey.

Asking people what income levels they want the new development to serve is problematic to us. It implies that people can be judged as good or bad neighbors based on how much money they earn. We disagree with the assumption that a person cares more or less about their neighborhood based on whether they own a market-rate house or rent an affordable apartment.

Homeownership is a goal for many people. If you have been able to purchase your home, congratulations to you. Homeownership has many benefits. In fact, the largest federal housing subsidy goes to homeowners in the form of tax deductions for mortgage interest. However, the myth that you care more about your neighborhood because you own a house is unfounded and damaging to
the kind of community that we believe we all want to create.

We therefore ask residents of Jamaica Plain, and particularly those that live in the Forest Hills neighborhood, to embrace the opportunity that we have to create housing that helps us to sustain the diversity that everyone agrees is one of the reasons we love Jamaica Plain.

Kalila Barnett, Felix G. Arroyo, Shirronda Almeida, Sally Swenson, Lenore Glaser, Carol Pryor, Karen Zerby Buzzelle, Nora Bloch, Charles Jones, Rob Festa, Nina Kallen, Adam Frost, Daniel Verinder, Peter Buzelle, Pam Bender, Jane Zerby and Red Burrows
Jamaica Plain