Affordable housing

I was disappointed in the lack of leadership from Mayor Walsh, the Office of Neighborhood Services and City Councilor Matt O’Malley in their final decision to support the 3200 Washington St. project at the City’s Zoning Board of Appeals on Sept. 15.

Perhaps the mayor, Councilor O’Malley and some residents were swayed by the number of “affordable” units in the project. As with many issues, the devil is in the details. For example:

  • ) The City required the developers of 3200 Washington St. to provide 13 percent affordable units. Without the already-designated affordable units from 52 Montebello (off-site and a part of this project), the developers barely exceed the City’s requirement at 16 percent.
  • ) Affordability is based on Boston Metro Area Medium Income (AMI). Most affordable units will go to households earning $69,000 (family of four), or 70 percent of AMI. One rental unit is offered at 100% AMI. The median income for Eqleston Square residents is estimated at $26,000 (family of four). So true affordability is really closer to 30-50 percent AMI. The City needs to re-evaluate the affordability formula itself.
  • ) The 3200 Washington St. project will offer 64 market rate rental units, accelerating Eqleston Square gentrification. Gentrification will eventually erase the income, racial and cultural diversity that makes Egleston Square so special.

Mayor Walsh has a plan to build 52,000 new units of rental housing by 2030. Do we need to eradicate existing communities to achieve that goal?

Reva Levin
Jamaica Plain resident

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