Monday, March 4, 2024

BOSTON MAYORAL FORUM

Mayoral Forum Spotlights Housing and Land Development in Boston 

Watch the recording here

Boston, MA — At this week’s Boston Mayoral Forums, candidates answered questions focussing on the planning and development of housing and land in Boston. The forum, hosted by the Right to the City VOTE, was the last in a series of six forums focused on gender, race, and economic justice for Boston residents. 

“Boston was in a major displacement crisis before this pandemic. Which was only been made worse by COVID-19. Any serious candidate for mayor must have a vision and a plan for how to stop displacement and stabilize housing across our neighborhoods,” said Andres Del Castillo, Right to the City Boston co-director, and co-host of this week’s forum.

Among other issues, candidates elaborated on their plans for increasing the percentage of IDP in the first 100 days, for bringing more community control to the planning and development, and for ensuring that public land is used for affordable housing and public goods, including providing housing for undocumented people.

“We have the power at the city level to build the city we dream of. We have the power to take on big issues – big fights, that people have told us, again and again, have been impossible, and yet they’ve gotten done,” said Michelle Wu, At-Large City Councilor and Roslindale resident. “Through your organizing, through coalition building, through the very type of work that you all have built generation after generation.”

“We need to develop at least 25 new urban farms by 2025 – I’ve committed to that – and then we need to make sure we have the kind of land trust fund for the preservation of affordable housing and community priorities,” said John Barros, former City Economic Development Chief and Dorchester resident.

“I have committed to in my housing plan currently, to expand city-wide increase in IDP to 20%, and to really look at certain neighborhoods like the Seaport, South End, Back Bay for a higher percentage – given what the economic numbers look like in those communities,” said District 4 City Councilor Andrea Campbell. “ I also am pushing for, in my plan, to have more onsite building occur, not simply to push for developers to put money into the fund.”

“Affordability and accessibility of both rental units and homes for sale are key for a thriving city. We need to ensure everyone who wants to call Boston home has the opportunity, the option, and the pathway to ownership to do so,” said City Councilor At-Large Annissa Essaibi George. “We can start by building more housing and ensuring what we build is actually affordable for Boston’s residents and is close to reliable transportation, job opportunities, and parks.”

“Public plans certainly need to be for the public good. I would suggest that part of the use for public land is not just for housing, but for community gardens. There is an opportunity to create access to good healthy foods for community gardens,” said Mayor Kim Janey, City of Boston. “Community gardens bring people together, create space to build relationships to introduce our children to growing their own food and doing a better job at eating their vegetables. 

“Public land is a public good and should be utilized as such. I believe that we should consider separating affordable housing development from regular development,” said Jon Santiago, State Representative for the 9th Suffolk district and South End resident. “We should be exploring alternative methods to creating housing units.”

Right to the City VOTE hosted a lightning round before ending the forum, where the candidates answered the question with a green and a red card, denoting a yes or a no, respectively. The following lists the responses from each candidate.

Question 1: Would you support the enabling act for rent control at the statehouse?
Yes: Michelle Wu
No: Jon Santiago, John Barros, Andrea Campbell, Annissa Essaibi George, and Kim Janey

Question 2: Would you support considering a developer’s track record on no-cause evictions, harassment, or code violations when coming before the City for a permit, license, or zoning approval?
Yes: Jon Santiago, Michelle Wu, John Barros, Andrea Campbell, Annissa Essaibi George, and Kim Janey
No: None

Question 3: Community members along the Fairmount corridor and Chinatown residents have been calling for protective zoning amendments. Do you support the creation of stabilization zones to help protect neighborhoods at risk of displacement?
Yes: Michelle Wu, John Barros, Andrea Campbell, Annissa Essaibi George, Kim Janey, and Jon Santiago
No: None

Question 4: Once the CDC eviction moratorium is lifted on the 30th, and state eviction moratorium tied to the Massachusetts State of Emergency lifted on the 15th, will you work to enact a citywide eviction moratorium for at least one year (following the expirations of these moratoriums)?
Yes: John Barros, Andrea Campbell, Kim Janey, and Michelle Wu
No: Jon Santiago and Annissa Essaibi George

Question 5: COVID has hurt our communities. Do you support revisiting East Boston community demands for increasing affordable housing at Suffolk Downs to 50% affordable?
Yes: Andrea Campbell, Jon Santiago, and Michelle Wu
No: Kim Janey, Anissa Essaibi George, and John Barros

Question 6: In the year before the pandemic, 87% of Boston’s multifamily property sales were cash sales, at an average price of $598,700 per unit. Do you support immediately tripling the $100,000 per unit funding available through the Acquisition Opportunity Program to make it feasible to remove properties from the market?
Yes: Annissa Essaibi George, Kim Janey, Jon Santiago, Michelle Wu, John Barros, and Andrea Campbell 
No: None

Question 7: Do you support doubling the City rental subsidy fund and prioritizing allocation of these subsidies to permanently affordable, community-controlled housing projects?
Yes: Kim Janey, Jon Santiago, Michelle Wu, John Barros, Andrea Campbell , and Annissa Essaibi George
No: None

Question 8: Do you support the Coalition for Truly Affordable Boston’s demand to increase IDP to 33%?
Yes: Kim Janey
No: Jon Santiago, Michelle Wu, John Barros, Andrea Campbell, and Annissa Essaibi George

Question 9: The City’s 2018 updated 2030 housing plan has a goal that 23% of the city’s total housing creation would be income-restricted – will you increase that number?
Yes: Jon Santiago, Michelle Wu, John Barros, Andrea Campbell, Annissa Essaibi George, and Kim Janey
No: None

Question 10: Will you work to ensure that CORIs aren’t a barrier for entry into affordable housing?
Yes: Michelle Wu, John Barros, Andrea Campbell, Annissa Essaibi George, Kim Janey, and Jon Santiago
No: None

Question 11: Will you support a real estate transfer fee on transfers of properties at $2M and up to increase resources for affordable housing?
Yes: John Barros, Andrea Campbell, Annissa Essaibi George, Kim Janey, Jon Santiago, and Michelle Wu
No: None

Question 12: Will you work to increase deeply affordable housing for households at 50% of AMI and below?
Yes: Andrea Campbell, Annissa Essaibi George, Kim Janey, Jon Santiago, Michelle Wu, and John Barros
No: None

These forums were organized to hear from the candidates about their vision for a healthier, more vibrant Boston as well as their plans to address the long-standing systemic inequities in our city. As mayor, how would the candidates alleviate the challenges facing those most directly impacted by inequities while lifting up all families? The forums were designed as a series of discussions on interconnected issues that affect all Boston residents.

Thursday’s forum was staged in partnership with the Boston Teachers Union, Boston Education Justice Alliance, NAACP Boston Branch, Alternatives For Community & Environment (ACE), SEIU32BJ, Brazilian Worker Center, Greater Boston Labor Council, Right to the City Vote, American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, Asian Pacific Islanders Civic Action Network, Chinese Progressive Association, and New England United for Justice.
 

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About the Right to the City Vote: 
RTCV is a citywide political collective working to build the political power of Boston’s rising electorate around a progressive agenda led by low-income, working-class communities of color. It is the only multiracial, multilingual, and multigenerational 501(c)(4) project in Boston and one of the few in Massachusetts. RCTV activists are a powerful force involved in year-round organizing and civic engagement to transform communities of color into high turnout neighborhoods.

Our member leaders and local residents represent neighborhoods such as Dorchester, Roxbury, Mattapan, East Boston, Chinatown, and parts of South Boston and Charlestown. We also have a network of residents in Chelsea and Revere. Visit https://www.rtcvboston.org/ to learn more.