Op-eds

October 13, 2017
By

How we’re bringing Bostonians of different generations together under one roof

By Mayor Martin Walsh

Every year, more and more people are calling Boston home. Our population is growing: we’re expected to surpass 700,000 residents before 2030, which are numbers we haven’t seen in decades. This growth means that housing is in high demand.

In 2014, we released our housing plan. It’s a roadmap to help us keep up with demand by creating 53,000 new units by 2030. We’ve made tremendous progress already. Since 2014, more than 13,000 new units of housing have been created, with an additional 8,400 under construction. In addition to building more housing, we’re finding creative new ways to address this challenge.

We know that our population isn’t only growing — it’s also evolving. Household sizes are smaller, and the definition of a household is changing. Priorities are also shifting. People are working from home more often. They are more interested in sharing spaces and items more frequently. All of these changes mean that the housing stock that was built for Boston’s population in the 1950s no longer meets our needs. We need to expand options in our housing stock and meet the needs of today’s Boston.

One such option is the Intergenerational Homeshare Pilot. Together with the Boston Commission on the Affairs of the Elderly, our Housing Innovation Lab, and Nesterly, we are creating solutions for one of our city’s largest populations, graduate students; and our fastest-growing population, seniors.

The program will match older homeowners who have a spare bedroom, with graduate students who are seeking an affordable place to stay. Homeowners will get assistance with house maintenance, students will get discounted rent, and both of them gain new opportunities to engage with the local community. It is our hope that this innovative housing pilot will provide more affordable housing options for all who participate.

Already, we’re seeing the demand for this type of housing option. We’re also seeing results. To date, we’ve made eight matches between homeowners and graduate students, and we’ve received more than 80 applications. And we’re getting positive feedback so far. One of our first participants in the program described herself as an empty-nester whose new student brings a lively and pleasant presence into her home. They are cooking dinner together, and learning from one another. This pilot not only helps us solve housing needs in our city, but it also brings together different generations in a new and meaningful way.

We will continue to find new ways to serve the needs of Boston’s current and future residents. We will keep pioneering innovative housing models, and we will accelerate the pace of innovation in the housing sector. Throughout all of our work, we will bring the spirit of exploration and experimentation to one of the most important issues facing our city: ensuring everyone has a place to call home.

To learn more about the pilot program, please visit: www.nesterly.io.

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How Boston is helping the people of Puerto Rico

By Mayor Martin Walsh

Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the people of Puerto Rico, those who live here and those who are on the island, as they recover from the devastating impacts of Hurricane Maria. I am incredibly proud to share that we are stepping up as a City to support them in their time of need. Together with The Boston Foundation, we have established the Massachusetts United for Puerto Rico fund, a fund that is dedicated to the relief and reconstruction of Puerto Rico and will support any Puerto Rican person arriving in Boston and the Commonwealth who have been impacted by Hurricane Maria. I encourage residents to visit https://tbf.org/puertorico to learn more about the fund.

Together we are sharing the important message to the people of Puerto Rico that we are here to help, for as long as they need. In Boston, we have a strong Puerto Rican community made up of over 32,000 residents. These residents, together with our greater Latino population, make up nearly 20 percent of our City.

In Boston, we know that our strength lies in our diversity. We take pride in being a city made up of people from all different backgrounds, representing many ethnicities and cultural heritages. Diversity shapes our neighborhoods and our identity as a city.

That’s why in September across Boston, and across the United States, we are celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, honoring the important contributions that members of the Hispanic community that have helped shaped Boston to be the city it is today, having influenced every sector of Boston life, from our culture, to our industries, to our economy. Hispanic heritage is an important presence in our civic life, and is an ever-growing part of Boston’s strength – today and in the future.

We’re doing everything we can to support the needs of the Hispanic community, and all the communities that make Boston such a thriving city. That’s why we’re working together to make sure that every decision we make, we make together. From early education to senior services, we will continue to build a Boston for all.

We will continue to empower the Hispanic community, and the strong diversity within the Hispanic community as well. In this time of national division, cities need to step up as leaders. That’s exactly what we’re doing in Boston. We stand for all our people. We stand for the diversity that makes our city great, because Boston is a city for everyone.

And we will reach beyond our borders to show the same level of support and compassion for the people of Boston with those in need in other parts of the country. We will lift the people of Puerto Rico up through this hard time, and will support them every step of the way. The people of Puerto Rico will always have a friend in Boston.

Please visit boston.gov/relief-efforts for more information about Boston’s efforts to support Puerto Rico, or visit https://tbf.org/puertorico to donate.  

 

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