Housing & Development
In Allston-Brighton, neighbors are seeing unprecedented levels of large-scale development of luxury apartments that are not affordable, nor do they meet the needs of middle-income families and young people who want to settle in the neighborhood. We have plummeting owner-occupancy levels as family homes are continually snapped up by investors, pricing out working families. As your representative on the Boston City Council, Liz Breadon advocates for sensible strategies to prioritize sustainable growth, socioeconomic diversity, and more affordable home ownership and rental options.
Some believe that the answer to Boston’s housing crisis is to just build more housing of any type as quickly as possible. This approach clearly is not working — rents continue to rise despite increased supply. Large numbers of new rental units in Allston and Brighton remain without long-term tenants because they are beyond the budgets of middle-income workers, or their absentee owners choose to maximize profit by offering them as short-term rentals.
Liz is your advocate to expand assistance for first-time homeowners to stay in the neighborhood. Across the city, homeownership rose from 31% in 1990 to 35% in 2017. Owner occupancy in Allston is 10.7% and in Brighton it’s 23.9%, compared to West Roxbury (63.7%), Roxbury (21.4%), Jamaica Plain (45.5%) and Mission Hill (10%). (Boston Planning & Development Agency, Boston in Context, 2020).
These neighborhood comparisons illustrate, among others things, the consequences of universities not housing their students on campus and the rapacious impact of absentee landlords and investors buying up housing stock to rent to students. Reversing this trend and increasing owner occupancy and long-term tenure in Allston-Brighton is essential to stabilizing the neighborhood.
More Affordable Housing
Liz fights to increase the City of Boston Inclusionary Development Plan (IDP) requirement to set aside a larger percentage (20%) of low- and moderate-income units within new developments in Allston-Brighton.
As your new city councilor, Liz advocates for increasing family oriented "workforce housing" so that teachers, nurses, firefighters and city employees with families can afford to live in the neighborhood. Liz takes every opportunity to impress upon residential developers the importance of building projects with larger apartments and amenities suitable for families — and priced for a range of incomes. This will help stabilize our community and make Allston-Brighton a more desirable location for long-term investment and long-term residence.
The economic diversity and demographics of Allston-Brighton are out of balance. We have enormous numbers of young adults (students and young professionals) and large numbers of elders, but we have lost “the middle” — middle-income families who are the backbone of a stable community. With new commercial and research facilities moving to Allston-Brighton, we have a time-sensitive opportunity to correct this imbalance by making a concerted effort to develop family-friendly housing and support improvements to our existing housing stock that in the past were family homes.
Linkage Fees: Transparency and Accountability
According to the Boston Planning & Development Agency, in the period between August 1996 and October 2018, Allston-Brighton added 17.7 million square feet of new development, a level that has had a huge impact on our residential neighborhood. In the same period, by comparison, downtown Boston added 35.8 million square feet and the South Boston Waterfront added 34.1 million square feet.
When development of this scale occurs, linkage fees are supposed to ensure that large-scale real estate development brings direct benefits to Boston’s residents through payments to the Neighborhood Housing Trust and the Neighborhood Jobs Trust. These fees — currently $9.03 per square foot for housing and $1.78 per square foot for job training — generated more than $31 million from 2014 to 2018 and were increased just last year, for the first time since 2013.
Given the scale of the current building boom in Allston-Brighton and across the city, it would be in the public interest to have increased transparency and performance metrics to ensure that linkage fees are being well spent and achieving meaningful benefits for neighborhoods across the city.
Transparency issues and performance metrics should include:
How many jobs training positions were created?
Who gets these training jobs?
Do the numbers of women and people of color reflect the population of Boston?
How many trainees successfully graduate and go on to find gainful employment in their chosen trade in the city?
How many affordable housing units were funded?
How deeply affordable were they and where were they located?
If, for example, Allston-Brighton had 17.7 million square feet of new development, what portion of the linkage fees were reinvested in the neighborhood most impacted by that development? Allston-Brighton is being tremendously impacted by the scale of new development, and as your District Councilor Liz will work to ensure that we have an open, transparent, and fair process for the allocation of linkage fees.