Roslindale Neighbors: City’s housing plan addresses JP, Rozzie gentrification

Mayor Martin Walsh this month released a new housing plan calling for 53,000 new units to the City by 2030, which will help accommodate a population that is expected to tip 700,000 by then.

The plan, which is called “Housing a Changing City: Boston 2030,” also addresses a key issue for both Jamaica Plain and Roslindale: gentrification.

The report displays neighborhood statistics that would trouble anyone concerned about gentrification. Both JP and Rozzie are seeing losses of middle- and lower-income households, and big spikes in higher-income brackets. But those numbers are not entirely correct, as the Department of Neighborhood Development continues to use an incorrect map of Boston neighborhoods rejected by most other City agencies.

The report states that the city is growing at twice the rate of the rest of the state. It is expected to have a population of 709,000 by 2030, a level not reached since the 1950s, when there were more housing units and more people per household.

To accommodate that population, the City expects 53,000 units across a variety of income levels, including 6,500 affordable housing units and 5,000 units for seniors. The plan also calls for 20,000 units for the middle class, which the City is defining as residents with household incomes between $50,000 and $125,000.

“This plan envisions a city where all Bostonians, regardless of race, age, economic status or physical ability, can find a place to call home,” the report states. “To achieve this goal, our housing policy must address issues of affordability at the root cause, creating long-term solutions for increasing housing supply and preserving our existing units.”

The City itself will spur development about about 8,000 affordable housing units on property it controls. About 4,000 middle-income units are expected to be produced under the City’s inclusionary zoning requirements on big housing developments.

The 53,000 figure also includes 5,000 units currently occupied by students that the City expects will become available to other residents as colleges build more dorms.

The report tackles several different housing issues, including how to maintain “strong, healthy neighborhoods.” In that section, the report displays strong gentrification numbers for Roslindale and Jamaica Plain regarding the change in share of housing by income of occupant between 2000 and 2012.

The numbers show that JP households reporting an annual income of less than $50,000 dropped 10 percent while those reporting an annual income of $50,000 and $100,000 dropped 7 percent. Meanwhile, the number of households reporting an annual income of more than $100,000 rose 17 percent.

The lower-income bracket was hit harder in Roslindale, as those households reporting an annual income of less than $50,000 fell to 21 percent. During that time, households reporting an annual income of between $50,000 and $100,000 rose 4 percent and households in the top-bracket jumped 17 percent.

But those numbers are not entirely accurate, as the DND uses an incorrect Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) “planning district” map that erases several neighborhoods and draws wildly incorrect boundaries for others. Among other problems, the map places all of Mission Hill and the Longwood Medical Area in JP, while removing such areas as Forest Hills and Parkside from JP.

The BRA map was deliberately incorrect, created many years to make the analysis of census results faster, even though they were wrong. The map then spread through various City agencies. After Gazette reporting on the issue, the BRA largely stopped using the incorrect map, and most City agencies have as well.

The housing plan looks to tackle gentrification through a five-tier approach:

  • Expanding homebuyer assistance programs.
  • Providing stability in neighborhoods through nonprofit acquisitions, such as turning rental properties into affordable housing.
  • Exploring the use of the community land trusts, similar to what the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative has done in Roxbury.
  • Extending the Condominium Conversion Ordinance to help with the impact of condo conversions in neighborhoods, which the report says is a source of gentrification. The ordinance currently applies to buildings with four or more units. It gives various protections to rental tenants in the event of condo conversion, including limitations on rent increases, moving assistance and right of the first chance to buy their unit.
  • Exploring options to support senior housing in gentrifying areas.

For more information about the housing plan, visit

Mayor Martin Walsh announces the housing plan Oct. 9 at a mixed-income development underway in Chinatown. (Photo Courtesy Mayor’s Office)

Mayor Martin Walsh announces the housing plan Oct. 9 at a mixed-income development underway in Chinatown. (Photo Courtesy Mayor’s Office)

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