Hooray for the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation, Boston Health Care for the Homeless and the Pine Street Inn! (“Homeless care project wins appeal,” Oct. 26.) The state appellate court has ruled in favor of the 461 Walnut Ave. respite care facility. The plaintiffs argued that increased traffic and decreased property values would impact the quality of life in their Franklin Park neighborhood. The evidence is overwhelming all around JP that including care-service housing, single-room occupancy units and affordable housing does not put downward pressure on housing prices. Cars and traffic will be less than the former Barbara McInnis House. The patients and residents of the new facility are frail and elderly, hardly the type to affect neighborhood life. I speak anecdotally when I observe from my Sumner Hill home that mixed-use housing and SRO’s in the neighborhood do not cause problems. The argument against 461 Walnut can be explained as an objection to “those” people.
Call it class warfare if you will, yet the same attitude is being shown as groups object to the proposed projects at 161 and 105A S. Huntington Ave. Just as there is a need for respite care, there is a housing need for the medical area. Sure, maybe they may have higher income than the local area wage, but are “they” to be denied housing? Inclusionary housing does not stop at the Area Mean Income. It means everyone.
The S. Huntington projects will be dense. Density is one of the issues cited by opponents. Yet most urban planners agree that density is part of the answer to modern city life. The developers have exceeded the city requirement for affordable housing. The economic boost to Mission Hill , Hyde Square and downtown JP shops and restaurants will be huge. Hundreds of local tradespeople will be put to work.
The benefits of housing for the elderly, frail, homeless and the successful far outweigh the class warfare argument that we don’t want “those” people in our neighborhood.
The miracle of Jamaica Plain is that we have become gentrified while including more ethnicities, more affordable housing, more dual-diagnosis housing, more SRO’s and elderly housing than we had 30 years ago.
Carlos B. Icaza