Too few units for those making below 80% median income

July 20, 2007
By

The new Jackson Square should be built because people want to see it done. It has broad public support, and it is first rate urban design.

But I cannot support the new Jackson because only 35 apartments out of 103 in Phase I will be built for those earning at or below 80 percent of the median family income.

At the June Article 80 review meeting covered by the Gazette, Partners acknowledged the dramatic loss of rental homes due to the increase in condominium conversion but explained that anything more than 35 homes was not feasible. I was the only one at that meeting to protest this, so apparently this is not an issue,

The Youth and Family Center has been increased to 30,000 square feet; more land in Phase I is dedicated to athletics, youth programs or retail buildings; not to housing. The second phase is proposed to be all rental housing with 88 houses available for those earning at or below 80 percent of median income.

Phase I should have been a combination of 88 rental houses on new Jackson Street with 68 rental homes at 225 Centre St.—all for those earning at or below 80 percent of median income. Youths will not use the family center if they don’t have a home their family can afford to live in.

Those of us involved in the Southwest Corridor many years ago made the serious mistake of not advocating for housing to replace the low estimate of 2,000 rental housing units lost during the enormous land takings for the proposed I-95. We fought and won parks, and many are still fighting for adequate replacement transit service along Dudley Street.

We never thought the federal government under President Reagan would abdicate its role to provide housing for those with the least resources, and we did not predict how much rental housing would be lost through condominium conversions, at great human cost to our neighborhoods.

The largest parcels of surplus corridor land have been taken over by a mosque, a huge gym, a police headquarters and—coming soon—a retail/cultural center. Stony Brook Co-ops and the Nate Smith House are shining exceptions, but they did not replace the triple deckers demolished along Lamartine Street that have been built up with high priced condominium clusters.

Forty years ago, 2,000 families lost their homes for a highway, and, although Partners for Jackson has proposed to build the most housing of any proposal to date, 35 homes for low and moderate income families in Phase I is unacceptable to me.

Richard Heath
Jamaica Plain