It is time for the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation to move on to an area of the city that needs its expertise and knowledge of community and economic development (“Loft apartments planned for church site,” May 11).
Thirty-five years ago, the JPNDC was formed to create jobs, develop affordable housing and assist folks who were being forced out of the rental market. Since then, over 600 affordable units have been developed. Fifteen hundred jobs have been created. Hundreds of people have been saved from evictions. The JPNDC has fought the perception that affordable housing brings blight to a neighborhood. Its work has produced quality housing with conscientious tenants who add value to a neighborhood. Remember, affordable does not mean cheap, just less expensive. The JPNDC should be applauded.
Today, the organization acts in a very different manner than stated in its mission statement. The focus has been more toward business development. It has been hugely successful in that venture. The Small Business Program has provided access to millions of dollars for local entrepreneurs. The Brewery, Hyde Square and Jackson Square business centers are important economic generators for Jamaica Plain. These new business provide jobs and bring people to JP. Yet many of these shops serve the gentrified community that was anathema to the JPNDC years ago.
Jamaica Plain is a far different place then it was 35 years ago. We have the highest percentage of affordable housing in the city. We have more assisted and substance abuse living facilities and more SROs, and with some of the areas highest housing prices, we are still diverse and independent-minded.
JP is a success. Thanks in part to the JPNDC, we have created a better community for all. To the executive director, staff and board of directors, I say, a job well done. It is time for you to get back in the streets, not build market-rate housing. Other areas of the city desperately need advocates for child-care services, ESOL classes, affordable housing and SROs.
Carlos B. Icaza, Jamaica Plain