- Boston Mayor Martin Walsh announced on Monday a comprehensive housing security and economic mobility legislative package.
- The 14-bill package, which he detailed in a Boston Herald Op-Ed, aims to promote equity, opportunity and resilience by "preserving neighborhoods, stabilizing vulnerable households, supporting small businesses, removing barriers that keep people in poverty [and] providing new pathways to good jobs." The bills would provide greater protections for low-income residents facing eviction and ensure they have an attorney, in addition to better protecting residents over 75 from eviction, and limiting rent increases of more than 5% a year.
- The package is the first of four that Walsh plans to present to the state legislature.
Boston has been hit hard by the nation's affordable housing crisis and Walsh has been at the forefront of finding solutions to ease the burden on citizens. The city released a request for proposals for affordable housing projects the city could financially support, adopted short-term rental regulations and established a $10 million private-donor fund to raise money for homelessness mitigation projects. Last year, Walsh was named chair of the U.S. Conference of Mayors' Community Development and Housing committee.
The recent work builds on the Housing a Changing City: Boston 2030 plan the city adopted shortly after Walsh took office four years ago. The plan originally aimed to create 53,000 new housing units by 2030, and last year that was upped to more than 69,000 units.
Areas beyond Boston are feeling the housing squeeze, and 14 neighboring cities and towns created a housing partnership to address common concerns. The difficulty hasn't just remained within the greater Boston area, either. The state of Massachusetts as a whole has a housing crunch and Gov. Charlie Barker has passed a number of housing measures including short-term rental regulations and a $10 million plan to create 135,000 housing units throughout the state by 2025.
Affordability and capacity have been the two hot issues on which housing crisis discussions have focused. But Walsh's legislative package puts an even stronger emphasis on providing equitable housing options. The proposals offer protections not only for low-income residents, but also aging citizens who generally have limited incomes and less ability to adapt to rent increases.
About 20% of Boston's housing units are rent-controlled, states Walsh's Op-Ed, but "to keep up with demand and keep housing affordable, the answer is clear: we simply need more housing." Walsh said he submitted the legislative package so Boston could get additional resources from the state to further progress on affordable housing.