on the issues: housing

Adressing the Housing Crisis

IN ALLSTON BRIGHTON

Allston Brighton has always been a community for folks all different backgrounds – families, elders, young people, workers, artists, immigrants, and so many more have called our neighborhood home. Over the past years, the housing troubles that the neighborhood face have quickly progressed into a crisis, as our residents are being displaced and priced out, as renters can’t afford to put down roots, as elders don’t have the ability to age gracefully in the community they have called home for years. We need bold and creative solutions that work to address the underlying problems creating our housing crisis, not tried-and-failed solutions that temporarily relieve the situation while passing the buck to create an even worse crisis a few years down the line. Ensuring affordability and access to housing in our neighborhood is a complex issue that requires multifaceted solutions:

Establishing an Interim Planning Overlay District:

Allston Brighton needs to be designated as an Interim Planning Overlay District (IPOD) in order to protect the character of the neighborhood and reign in rampant, poorly implemented development. Our district’s current zoning is incongruent with the neighborhood as it exists today. Following the successful example of South and East Boston, Allston Brighton would use an IPOD designation to give our community members greater say in all development going on in the neighborhood. For developers to do work in our neighborhood, we need them to commit to creating a greater portion of affordable units, and to actively invest in the community that they profit from. Establishing an IPOD would allow us to hold developers to these standards, and would enable us to protect valuable single and two family homes from being turned into student-targeted housing. Further, the designation would allow us to tailor development, incentivizing building bigger projects where appropriate, such as the Allston-Landing area. In order to increase owner-occupancy, retain families, and give our younger renting population an opportunity at long term residency, we need to ensure plentiful housing stock. The IPOD designation would be an excellent step forward for our neighborhood towards those goals.

Creating a new independent Boston Planning Agency:

It’s clear that the rebranding of the Boston Redevelopment Authority into the Boston Planning and Development Agency has proved to be little more than bureaucratic shuffling of papers, as the agency continues to focus on greenlighting development while doing little of the supposed “planning” present in its name. It’s clear that Boston needs an independent, stand-alone Planning Agency that focuses on actual strategic planning of prospective development. Our community needs developers to be coordinated and reigned in, for projects to match the density, capacity, and wants of the area they’re being planned in, and for affordable development to accompany any and all “high end” projects.

Ensure universities meet their housing needs:

Allston Brighton is home to three world class institutions of higher education, and Boston more broadly is home to dozens. Our neighborhood has long been the recipient of students from all of these institutions as their colleges and universities haven’t provided sufficient on-campus housing. While students can absolutely have a place in our community, the universities can’t be allowed to have a free ride in dumping their unhoused students onto our doorstep, consuming precious housing stock and displacing those who otherwise wish to continue calling Allston Brighton their home. Boston needs to put pressure back on the schools to provide adequate housing for their students, and needs to take action such as considering capping the number of students able to be accepted to a college or university over its housing capacity. Beyond that, we need to ensure that not only are universities and colleges providing on-campus housing for their students, but that they’re providing affordable on-campus housing – schools can no longer build luxury housing and simply expect the City to provide affordable options for their students.