MADISON PARK OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE VOTES “NO” ON EXPANDED AFFORDABLE HOUSING

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^ (left) the SMPOC in hot discussion with itself (right) the 2101 Washington St building

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At last night’s “working session’ of Madison Park’s strategic Master plan Oversight Committee (SMPOC), the committee voted 6 to 1 not to recommend the Parcel 10 developer’s request for more affordable housing units and fewer at “market rate.”

For almost 90 minutes they listened to the developer’s request and to questions from meeting attendees. Sentiment in the room certainly favored an increase in the number of affordable units at Parcel 10’s 2101 Washington Street, a currently derelict structure which the developer intends to renovate as 21 residences. But the SMPOC wasn ‘t having it. As the committee chirman said, “our committee has done more than its fair share of affordable housing.” Noted another committee member, “Our hope is to raise job pay in the area and to step up to the next level.”

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^ dedicated activist Bridget wallace addresses the committee

By taking this position, and this vote, the SMPOC would seem to put itself at odds with a very vocal constituency in Roxbury that advocates that held a very passionate protest outside the SMPOC’s last public meeting, only two weeks ago. The protest featured Councillor Tito Jackson, who, after speaking at the protest, succeeded at the meeting at having the SMPOC adopt rules assuring a majority of workers doing parcel 10 construction would be local residents and that all would be paid the state’s prevailing wage.

However, Jackson did not present to the meeting any motion respecting affordable housing as opposed to market-rate. as the protest’s first priority was wages and jobs, not specific housing goals, he acted accordingly at the meeting.

Jackson did not attend last night’s meeting.

Still, the issue is not likely to fade away. the protest loudly opposed “gentrification” in Roxbury — the buying up of Roxbury houses by people not currently living in the rea — and one questioner at last night’s meeting raised the gentriication issue directly. Many attendees followed suit : they exemplify the sentiment of many Roxburyites who see themsleves being priced out of their own neighborhood.

The SMPOC took the opposite position ; that the first priority is to create market-rate residences so that people earning the higher wages that Councillor Jackson advocated for can rent living space with market-rate amenities and market-rate power. After all, the argument goes, who wants to live one’s lie always under a subsidy ? People taking this position well know that if home ownership is to expand in Roxbury, to Roxbury residents, they will have to demonstrate the ability to pay market-rate mortgage payments — and having a record of doing the equivalent by paying market rate rents.

Such, i take it, is the SMPOC’s position, as it tries to raise the incomes and market power of current Roxbury residents faced, right now, with the irresistible market power of “gentrifiers.”

We shall see how this debate plays out. It is far from settled.

—- Mike Freedberg / Roxbury Here

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