Home News How much affordable housing is too much for one neighborhood? A proposal to halt development on city-owned land in Roxbury raises key questions.

How much affordable housing is too much for one neighborhood? A proposal to halt development on city-owned land in Roxbury raises key questions.

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“Rather than centralizing poverty in one area of ​​Boston, why not share the responsibility throughout Boston?” Fernandez Anderson said.

Boston City Councilman Tania Fernandez AndersonPat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

Her proposal is likely to face fierce political opposition and backlash from those concerned about housing shortages..

“Roxbury can’t afford to stop housing production,” said David Price, former executive director of Nuestra Comunidad Development Corporation. “There are people who are being displaced right now.”

But even if it doesn’t get approval, the proposal could spark debate about the huge gap in the distribution of affordable housing.

As of 2021, 54% of Roxbury homes are income-restricted, the highest rate of any region. Wealthy neighborhoods such as Back Bay, North End and Beacon Hill. Restricted to households below a certain percentage of the median income in the area, income-restricted housing accounts for 19.2% of the total housing stock in Boston, which is the highest among all major U.S. cities. the highest percentage.

The proposal comes at a contentious time for elected officials who are under pressure to increase the city’s affordable housing stock in a thriving development market. Roxbury is the heart of the city and has recently sought to redevelop vacant lots acquired during urban regeneration into affordable housing.

And earlier this month, the city announced that developers recently started construction Nubian Square’s mixed-use, mixed-income housing development is enriched with 70 income-restricted units.

If the moratorium is approved, it will not apply to projects already underway, including P3, a vacant 7.7-acre lot owned by the city across from Police Headquarters on Tremont Street. A 20-year series of proposals did not work. Development Team, HYM/My City At Peace — Proposed A mix of lab space, shops, green spaces, affordable condos, and market-priced condos and apartments — It won by default after a second bidder withdrew, citing economic changes that complicated financing. But Fernandez Anderson said residents were concerned about too few bidders in the latest round. issued a hearing order.

Development moratoriums are rare, but not unheard of.In recent years, several Massachusetts towns such as Dedham and saugus has Suspension of major development projects Evaluate the impact of a population boom on transportation, schools, and communities.

Fernandez Anderson said the request for a hearing on her proposal will help city officials understand how cramming affordable housing stock into her neighborhood is hurting residents’ quality of life. said he hopes

“People in Roxbury go to work and go home,” Fernandez Anderson said. “But where are people going? take a walk in the park? Where do people go to jazz clubs?”

She said she would like to see changes to the process of approving new developments so that residents can have a stronger voice.

Under the current BPDA system, residents are brought in to “tick a box” at the end of the process.

“We know what’s best for us,” she said.

Supporters of the moratorium said they I am not against affordable housing. Instead, as Connie put it, “we want equitable development.”

A spokesperson for Mayor Michelle Wu declined to comment, saying the government was looking forward to the discussion. We seek to balance the desire for housing opportunities and anti-eviction activities in individual areas with the need to ensure that those opportunities are spread equitably across all areas.”

But Jesse Kanson Benanav, executive director of the housing advocacy group Abundant Housing Massachusetts, has expressed concern about a general development moratorium at a time when Boston’s housing supply can’t keep up with high demand, but affordable housing is still on the rise. agreed that should be served more evenly. Distributed throughout the city.Pausing construction would cause more people to fight for the same number of existing units, he said. When that happens, “rich people always win.”

Price said it has historically been difficult to convince developers to build in Roxbury. And building affordable and mixed-income housing means meeting public funding demands and onerous requirements.

“Not all developers want to try building affordable or mixed-income housing,” said Price.

Despite these barriers, developers have built multiple affordable housing projects in Roxbury. Barry Bluestone, former lead author of “The Greater Boston Housing Report Card” and former professor of political economy, says Roxbury’s history of urban renewal has left many empty cities suitable for large, affordable housing sites. He stated that his lot was left in the neighborhood. Roxbury is larger and has more room for such development than smaller areas like Back Bay. He also pointed to NIMBYism in whiter areas and regional zoning policies that limit the number and types of projects that can be built.

Connie Forbes, another member of Roxbury United Neighborhoods (RUN), said that too much affordable housing “encourages the cycle of poverty to be passed on to the next generation.” Without affordable home-buying options and affordable rents, those living in subsidized housing have a malicious incentive to stay poor.

Forbes said Boston should push for more affordable development first home ownership opportunity Because this “removes restrictions on residents”.

Connie said more commercial space is needed so that residents “don’t have to get in the car and go somewhere” to meet their shopping needs. Plans should be led by Roxbury-based entrepreneurs, not outside developers, Connie said.

And developers need to convert city-owned lots into more viable green space, she said.

Norm Stembridge, co-chair of the Roxbury Strategic Master Plan Oversight Committee and appointed Wu of the Zoning Board of Appeal, declined to comment on the moratorium. Roxbury said there was not enough housing, including income-restricted housing, rental housing, and homes.

Having spent his formative years in the neighborhood, he said he is using the commission’s appointment to try to revitalize Roxbury with its diverse housing options and commercial spaces. Will there be a return to the heyday before the heart of the city was destroyed and generations of Bostonians were forced out of the neighborhood? ‘ said.


Tiana Woodard is a member of the Report for America Corps, which covers black neighborhoods.she can be reached at [email protected]Follow her on Twitter. @tianarochon.

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