Sonia Chang-Díaz deserves credit for her strong stand in favor of the 50 percent affordable housing goal of the Forest Hills Improvement Initiative (FHII). She could easily have pandered to business interests, or issued a vague statement about the need to balance community concerns, or simply remained silent on the matter—all common tactics among politicians, especially those running for office. But Chang-Díaz chose instead to stick up for working families and stick up for her beliefs.
“Affordable housing,” as the phrase is used by the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA), does not refer to Section 8 federal housing subsidies. It does not, unfortunately, refer to housing that anyone could afford. Rather, it is calculated based on 60-100 percent of the area median income, which is now $74,150 for a family of three, according to John Dalzell of the BRA. About half of the current residents of the Forest Hills area already fall into this category. The FHII goal merely aims to preserve the economic diversity of Jamaica Plain and to create a space that can be shared by people of different means.
I am disappointed by state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson’s opposing position on this issue. Sen. Wilkerson has historically been a passionate advocate for working class and underprivileged Bostonians. Her commitment to fighting injustice is apparent in her continued work towards CORI reform and marriage equality, along with many other issues. I hope she adds FHII affordable housing to that list soon. The primary election is scheduled for Sept. 16.
Editor’s note: Sonia Chang-Díaz is running against Dianne Wilkerson for state Senate in the Democratic primary.