By Rosalie Tirella
A great story in the Boston Globe today (or go to Boston.com) re: just what InCity Times pointed out last issue: We have a “housing affordability crisis” in Massachusetts (and Worcester).
Contrary to what the greedy, fat-head brigade says in town, Worcester DOES NOT NEED MORE MARKET-RATE HOUSING. Worcester, along with every other city in Massachusetts, needs more affordable housing. Housing for working people, middle-class people, people who have jobs – and are still seeing almost half of their income go to rent (it should be about a third). Like single working moms – moms like the woman interviewed in the Glovbe story, written by Globe staff reporter Megan Woolhouse. The single mom Woolhouse interviewed said she makes $14 an hour working at FedEx and gets child support – and still uses most of her money on housing and necessities. A quote from Woolhouse’s piece:
“Sandra Cassio, a single mother, said the rent on her $1,300-a-month Dorchester apartment consumes about half her monthly paycheck. The 29-year-old cares for her two children and a nephew, and works part time at FedEx for $14 an hour. She also receives child support.
“The Dorchester apartment is also $200 more expensive than her last rental in South Boston, which Cassio had to leave when the landlord decided to renovate. She lives frugally to make ends meet; many of her furnishings are secondhand, given to her by friends and family.
” ‘You don’t want to be spending money on things that are not necessities,’’ Cassio said. “There is no ‘I want this.’ There is only ‘I need this.’ ‘ ”
This happens all over Worcester – every day!
Back to the Globe piece. This from a housing expert: “Belsky said low-income renters were most likely to be burdened by high rents because of an acute shortage of affordable housing. Apartment construction in recent years has been geared toward the upper-end market.”
These starting statistics, we all feel. We feel them as we watch Worcester Public school students leave one public school to go to another as they leave one apartment in Worcester to live in another, the bill collectors on their tails. We sem them in the instability in our neighborhoods because the families living in them are stressed to the max and are tired of moving, tired of being rootless. Domestic violence, violent crime – it all goes up.
More from the Globe story:
“The study, released yesterday, described an “affordability crisis’’ worsened by the recent recession, which eroded family incomes even as record foreclosures pushed more people into the rental market, driving up prices.
“As a result, 10.1 million US households, or one in four renters, spend more than half their earnings on rent and utilities. Another one in four households spends one-third to one-half of income on rent and utilities, according to the study.
“This squeeze, traditionally concentrated among lower-income families, is increasingly becoming a middle-class problem, according to the study. The percentage of middle-income families using 30 to 50 percent of their income for rent and utility payments more than doubled over the past decade, to 23 percent from 10 percent.”
Worcester does not need more $1,200 apartments – it needs more $650/$700 apartments. And if the Main South Community Development Corporation (CDC) and the other CDC’s in Worcester can build/rehab apartments, can do the job, along with big developers who get funds from the government if they build affordable housing, then I say BUILD ON! Build on CDCs and friends!!
We must not be bamboozled by a few fast talkers in town who wanna make a buck. When they build or rehab, they do not pay good wages to their carpenters or laborers. Construction workers at their jobs sites, do not get a salary to raise their families on – or pay their mortagages. The CDCs are the opposite. CDC’s use excellent building materials, excellent construction companies – who pay good wages – and they are – because they are nonprofit – forced to keep rents in their units affordable. And they don’t go into the business with the intent to “flip” their properties (to God knows who) to make a killing.
Let’s go Worcester CDC’s! Let’s build for Worcester!