Earlier this year, Mayor Marty Walsh told Jamaica Plain News and other community newspapers how he plans to keep people from being forced out of Boston by the high costs of rent and sales prices: "The key is to increase the supply of housing." Last October, the mayor released his housing committee report which stated Boston needs to build 53,000 housing units by 2030 to keep pace with increasing prices that are squeezing out low- and middle-income residents. The construction of new housing is booming; from Northern Avenue to North Station there are either completed or under construction thirteen towers with total of 3,268 units of rental or condo homes. In Forest Hills alone, there are either under construction or approved three developments with a total of 536 rental or ownership units; combine that with Olmsted Place at 161 S. Huntington Avenue and the number jumps to 731 units. Can We Build Out of The Affordability Crisis?
A Boston Redevelopment Authority-sponsored public meeting about the planned development of the former Economy Plumbing evolved into a protest on the very future of Egleston Square. The day after the contentious Wednesday meeting, Mayor Martin Walsh addressed the Urban Land Institute — a group of which toured Egleston Square this week — on the need for a Washington Street planning process that combines "development and consensus." BRA Assistant Project manager Ed McGuire cautioned a packed house at the Egleston Square YMCA that "this has not been approved. [The BRA] is still reviewing this proposal." The 3- day comment period had been extended to April 15. "[Your] comment letters are a very important part of this process."
Finally, there's good news for seniors who own their own homes and want to stay in JP. On Tuesday, Mayor Marty Walsh signed a "home rule petition" to give tax deferrals to long-term home owners. It could be part of a solution for some in the battle against rising property costs. So how does this affect qualifying residents of JP? Well, if passed in the state legislature, qualifying long-term homeowners will be able to more easily afford remaining in their homes by deferring property taxes.
Santo Anibal Ramirez, owner of Anibal Color Studio, talking about closing his business due to the rise in rent. Credit: "Ain't No One Can Afford This"
People pour their sweat and souls into things they believe are worth their time. Helen "Homefries" Matthews, a Jamaica Plain resident of 13 years, dedicates her time to "Ain't No One Can Afford This," a public video project that will share the stories of JP residents and business owners who have been or are being priced out. I sat with Homefries for about two hours in Café Bartlett Square. As she spoke about her community and its residents, I saw the fervor in her eyes with which she is diving into this video project full-fledged.