Forum: JP pricing out all but wealthiest

Want to buy a house in JP? You’ll have to be in the top-5-percent income bracket.

That was one of the statistics discussed at the April 9 Jamaica Plain Inequality Forum, where activist organization members addressed housing affordability and low-wage jobs.

About 40 people attended the forum, which was held at the Hope Central Church in Sumner Hill. It was sponsored by JP Progressives, Jobs with Justice, the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC) and Action for Regional Equity.

The event was moderated by DigBoston News and Features Editor Chris Faraone. A former Gazette political columnist, Faraone was priced out of JP in recent years.

Leslie Bos of the JPNDC, a community development corporation, talked about the work that her organization does providing affordable housing. She noted that development is often “generational” and “it takes years.” She pointed to the redevelopment of Jackson Square, which she said has taken “10, 20, 30, 40 years.”

Bos said affordability is a problem in JP, with a person needing to be in the top 5 percent of income-earners in the country to be able to afford to buy a house in the neighborhood. She said there needs to be discussions over anti-displacement strategies and possibly a a no-fault eviction ordinance.

“There is no way we are going to produce our way out of our problem,” said Bos, referring to the common idea of lowering housing prices by building more units.

Mukaji Ambila of Action for Regional Equity led an interactive session with attendees over “bad” jobs. That session concluded that bad jobs include those that have low wages, no health care, unsafe conditions, no security, anti-union positions and inconsistent schedules.

Ambila said that about 66 percent of low-wage jobs in the state are at large employers (more than 100 employees), that the majority of fast-food workers receive food stamps and that Boston ranks third in the country for income inequality and first in how fast it is gentrifying.

Similar issues were discussed by some of the Inequality Forum’s organizations at the annual State of the Neighborhood Forum in February.

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