Affordable housing forum gathers seven mayoral hopefuls
By Ling-Mei Wong
The “Why We Can’t Wait for Housing” mayoral forum took place August 6 at the Josiah Quincy School. Seven of the 12 mayoral candidates attended.
The event was held on the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “Why We Can’t Wait” speech. Moderators asked a question and gave each candidate time to respond.
All the candidates voiced support for additional affordable housing stock. “Affordable housing happens by intention,” said city councilor at-large Felix Arroyo.
Bill Walczak suggested master plans for every neighborhood, more public transit and developing housing along the Route 128 belt.
Other candidates promised more subsidized units. “There are tax breaks and credits for waterfront property development,” said state Rep. Marty Walsh. “We need the same for affordable housing.”
Foreclosure was discussed, with candidates advising for less harsh alternatives. “I would block eviction, as I have in the past,” said district 4 city councilor Charles Yancey. “The Boston $2.6 billion city budget is powerful and should be a force for good.”
“We should use public land for housing, not profit,” said former School Committee member John Barros. He advocated for homeless women with children to be placed into affordable housing first.
Property values are high in Boston, with median home prices at $380,000, said former state Rep. Charlotte Golar Richie. “We need to stand up for the most vulnerable residents. As mayor, I will raise awareness for homelessness and participate in the annual census.”
District 8 city councilor Mike Ross pushed for no-barrier housing for the homeless. During his term, he saw transient individuals coming to Boston Medical Center more than 100 days a year, which cost the city $4 million but did not get them into homes. Once the individuals were housed, the money was freed up for other individuals in need.
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