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Boston to try to spur more housing for people who aren't rich

WBUR reports on proposals by the city Housing Innovation Lab to get more housing built for families that earn between $50,000 and $125,000 a year. One idea is to give builders the right to build more total units if more of them are marketed as affordable:

The lab is working with the Boston Redevelopment Authority planning areas in Jamaica Plain/Roxbury and South Boston to carry this out.

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How about changing zoning to eliminate minimum parking requirements and allow dense multifamily housing as of right? If you can't build the South End style rowhouses or Fenway style apartment flats As of Right something is very wrong.

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Eliminate parking and increase population density... Da fuck?

Developers already know how to circumvent "affordable" housing requirements, letting them build more units is asinine.

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Please explain how increasing the supply of housing increases prices.

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I can't understand why we don't see more development of townhouses with garages on the ground floor. Most families need at least one car; this gives you the ability to have a car and keeps it parked off the city street, while fulfilling the need of dense housing.

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We might call that a snout house, the only relation to the street being a snout into which you can shove an automobile. A fairly vertical snout house, but one filling the bill (see what I did there?).

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We actually do do this in a number of places (several such units have been built all over JP where I live), but the reasons it's not more popular and doesn't really solve our problem basically come down to price and density.

Price because if you thought buying a single floor of a triple-decker was expensive, try sharing the cost of an additional unit with your second floor neighbor (hint: it's almost 50 percent more!).

And density because right now Boston is mostly triple-deckers with families on all three floors, so if you replace those buildings with three story two family housing, you are actually cutting average density by 33%.

What's more, parking isn't actually that valuable in Boston. In fact there is quite a lot of parking in Southie, but it's mostly private, off-street parking, and that's exactly what you'd be building more of. The *only* way you're going to make it easier to find on-street parking in Southie is by charging for it.

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If the city and state cared about the issue of making more middle class housing, developers would stop receiving tax subsidies for building offices in the south boston waterfront and they area would be rezoned for high density housing with those subsidies that have been going to corporate office space going to helping make lots of housing there. Building offices with massive parking lots (and a mall with 1000s of spaces) is a waste of space and money, but it does signal the city and states priorities: subsidized offices and parking for corporations, and a relatively small number of luxury condos.

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There are no more families left in Boston. Never mind those that earn $125k a year. Boston has become the most unfriendly family city thanks to the two administrations in City hall.

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There are 57,000 kids just in BPS. I can vouch that from personal experience that at least one is part of a family. I suspect most of the rest are not just orphans roaming the streets.

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How many of them do not live in government owned or subsidized housing? The middle has mostly been pushed out for the wealthy or subsidized poor.

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Because it doesn't sound like you're at all familiar with Roslindale or Hyde Park, not to mention large parts of Dorchester or Brighton. Yes, the middle class is being squeezed in Boston. No, we're not yet Manhattan.

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Would like to buy but priced out. Actually, about priced out for renting. Combined income about 90K, no kids. When you're paying upwards 2k/month in rent it's really hard to save up 20% down payment. New neighbors bought their house over $400K and the place had to be completely gutted. Condos are cheaper but have pricey monthly fees. Check out what's available on Craigslist or Zillow. Roslindale has really gone up in price over the last few years.

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We are a middle class family and were renting in Roslindale. We loved living there until I had a kid in 2014 and our landlord decided that he needed our unit for his "aunt" and we had to move out. Mind you, he didn't have a lead certificate, but had also not ever had the building inspected. We had lived there for 6+ years so I didn't want to risk my only landlord reference by fighting back.

We tried really hard to find another place in Roslindale or West Roxbury and inquired about every single apartment that came up under $2000. Landlords and realtors know how to get around the lead statue, as soon as they discover that you have a kid they have already rented the unit or they just don't call back. The deleading laws make it impossible to find a place with a kid and it's extremely hard to get MCAD or the City to be of any help because units go so quickly.

It was horrible, we moved closer to DH's job in central MA, had to switch daycares and I ultimately settled for a job outside the city because the commuter rail wound up being so unreliable. I miss it terribly and would move back in a heartbeat if I could.

If you live in the city, don't bother with children until you own a place.

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3

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Is never coming back as a "good" school system, instead we're heading in the other direction.

I can vouch for that as a 20 something graduate, who doesn't take my kids word for it.

O by the way, my mother in the late 90's, early 2000's was the first to fight for IEPs and once she got back on her feet pulled us out faster than Bernie would steel you pay check!

Guess what changed in over a decade?_______! Nothing will change moving forward except payroll and pentions. Bostons best unionized employment agency!

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57,000 down from 93,000, that's why the City wants to close down 40 school buildings. A few more years of pushing families out and this will be a city of rich D.I.N.K's

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It's a jobs racket.

Every year more and more money goes into the Bolling Building, and every year less and less comes out.

They'd be perfectly happy if enrollment continued to drop. It's not about the kids.

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Its about time. The amount of new apartments going up that cost more than 2000 dollars for a studio is absolutely ridiculous. No one will be able to afford to live in the city soon and then the housing market will collapse! I'm not saying we need low income housing necessarily, but maybe something slightly more affordable, like 2500 for a 2 bedroom?

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...so families in that income range can QUALIFY for such housing, but whose to say the landlord will not charge exorbitant rents?

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For being so far behind the times, but I still find it amusing when I read $50,000 a year considered at the bottom of affordable housing range. Where do all the people who don't have college degrees or know somebody in City Hall find a place to live ?

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roommates.

And not just 3 people in a 3 bedroom, I know plenty of people doing bunk beds to fit 8 people in a 3 bedroom, 2 in each bedroom and 2 in the living room.

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And what line of work are you in? Say something to your employer.

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That you have no chance of making $50,000 a year?

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Adjuncts rarely make that much, with no job security to boot.
https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/boston-adjunct-professor-salary-SRCH_IL.0,6_IM109_KO7,24.htm

At some campuses, as much as 70% of faculty are now adjuncts.
http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/24/opinion/rhoades-adjunct-faculty/

"Nearly a quarter of all adjunct professors receive public assistance, such as Medicaid or food stamps."
http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/05/the-cost-of-an-adjunct/394091/

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WTF is a "housing innovation lab?" Years ago, Walsh made a promise to replace the BRA with a planning department. Instead, he's coming up with more redundant groups with titles that sound like campaign slogans.

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If the city puts the money collected for affordable housing into building public transportation in areas with lots of existing affordable housing I feel like there would be a greater impact than by building relatively small numbers of affordable units...take the legnth of the Fairmount line for example.

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This is the solution. Increasing the supply can only do so much to stem the demand when there's a limited supply of land in greater Boston. Reinvest in transit, expand the lines - GLX north, OLX south, Red to Arlington, Blue to Lynn --- and huge new swaths of land that aren't really practical for so many are suddenly ripe and available for density.

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A significant amount of the land within walking distance of the Orange Line (for example) is zoned single family. I think we need to do both, but it's important not to downplay how much housing we could gain by just making our existing neighborhoods denser.

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Pipe dream. Arlington has become really expensive as well, Watertown is not far behind. And where do you put the Red Line? The Minuteman? No one will ever let you!

I wish Boston had REAL underground 'subway' not this Fisher-Price version.

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The Mayor's Housing Innovation Lab website is under an umbrella called The Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics (which is somehow tied to Philadelphia and Utah Valley). Following the Projects link led to a picture and link concerning the North Avenue bridge. http://newurbanmechanics.org/project/northern-avenue-bridge/

It is ironic to find a webpage celebrating the bridge is tied to the "The Mayor's..." this or that considering the Mayor is determined to destroy the bridge.

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This won't help as much with housing costs when you consider that large amounts of the housing stock is being bought up by speculators or investors who aren't even residents. There's a lot of demand for investments that isn't local. This has been written about a lot already. Some buying restrictions might help some.

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Speculators are buying *because* the supply is scarce. People only speculate on things which are likely to go up in value. If you increase the supply (by building taller buildings) or make the housing itself less lucrative (by requiring more units to be deed-restricted affordable, which cuts into profit margins), you also reduce speculation.

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