r Letter From Eastie: Blah, blah, blah, blah. . .
Click here to buy posters!
Click here to buy posters!
Collaged view of Boston, from East Boston

Letter From Eastie

News and other items from East Boston, Massachusetts.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Blah, blah, blah, blah. . .

Sometimes I write these posts and I think I'm being clear about my points, but then I read my comments and think maybe I'm not speaking English too well. Or maybe my posts just become like the teacher in Charlie Brown cartoons: "wa wa wa wa wa. . .wa wa wah." Anyway, I am now forced to respond to another comment by FirstEvil here. Now just to be clear, just because I'm calling you out "First," it's nothing personal. I'm just using your comments as a jumping off point to talk about issues that I'm already thinking about and I will sometimes be addressing issues that go beyond what you or any other commenter/blogger/news reporter has to say.

First of all, I'm not against beautification of East Boston and I'm not sure what, in any of my posts could ever give you that impression. My point in this and my previous post was a) Starbucks does not necessarily = beautification, nor does it or the presence of yuppies equal lack of crime--if anything there could conceivably be an increase in crime since yuppies actually have something good to steal; and b) the goal in beautifying and improving East Boston should not be to make it into the new South End or the new North End or "EaBo." It should be to make it a better East Boston.

Second of all, I think that your implication that I am not being "adult" by renting my apartment rather than buying a home is really just kind of low. You were able to get your home in the $150,000 range, if I understand your comment correctly. If I could still get a home in that range, I would be thrilled to own one right now. Could you have bought your home for $300k or $400k at the time that you paid $150k? Maybe you could have and, if so, good for you. Unfortunately, I don't have the option of paying $150k for a home if I want to live anywhere near the city of Boston. Exactly how adult of a decison would it be to pay $300,000 (or more) for a one bedroom condo--not even house? How much value could I possibly hope to gain on that deal given that current sellers in Massachusetts are already having to chop their prices to get them sold in a slow market? East Boston is one of the few places in Boston that is marginally affordable. Boston is a town in desparate need of affordable housing. When I talk about my rent going up, I'm just personalizing a larger problem. The truth is, being a professional and having a decent job, I can take a bit of a hit on rent. I could always live with roommates, etc if I had to and you are lucky if you can take the hit in property tax, but not everyone is so lucky. If I had a kid to take care of and my rent went up right now, I'd probably end up homeless. Rising rents need to be taken seriously, they are a major social justice issue--especially given the recent budget cuts passed by the federal govenment. The National Low Income Housing coalition recently reported Boston to be the 4th most expensive market in the United States for housing. In their 2005 report "Out of Reach" they reported that in Massachusetts:
. . .the Fair Market Rent (FMR) for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,138. In order to afford this level of rent and utilities, without paying more than 30% of income on housing, a household must earn $3,792 monthly or $45,502 annually. Assuming a 40-hour work week, 52 weeks per year, this level of income translates into a Housing Wage of $21.88. In Massachusetts, a minimum wage worker earns an hourly wage of $6.75. In order to afford the FMR for a two-bedroom apartment, a minimum wage earner must work 130 hours per week, 52 weeks per year. Or, a household must include 3.2 minimum wage earner(s) working 40 hours per week year-round in order to make the two bedroom FMR affordable. In Massachusetts, the estimated mean (average) wage for a renter is $15.33 an hour. In order to afford the FMR for a two-bedroom apartment at this wage, a renter must work 57 hours per week, 52 weeks per year. Or, working 40 hours per week year-round, a household must include 1.4 worker(s) earning the mean renter wage in order to make the two-bedroom FMR affordable.

Monthly Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments for an individual are $708 in Massachusetts. If SSI represents an individual's sole source of income, $212 in monthly rent is affordable, while the FMR for a one-bedroom is $953.

In Massachusetts, a worker earning the Minimum Wage ($6.75 per hour) must work N/A hours per week in order to afford a two-bedroom unit at the area's Fair Market rent. The Housing Wage in Massachusetts is $21.88. This is the amount a full time (40 hours per week) worker must earn per hour in order to afford a two-bedroom unit at the area's Fair Market rent.

A unit is considered affordable if it costs no more than 30% of the renter's income.
And this isn't just a problem for the poor, minimum wage earner. A whole lot of the the "middle class" are being priced out of the markets all over the country.

Third of all, my point about the crime statistics was to point out that although East Boston has a reputation for being a gang, infested war zone, it is really no worse (if not better) than other more "upscale" Boston neighborhoods. If you took a minute to think about it, you would realize that making this kind of comparison may actually attract the urban, professional types you claim to want to bring to East Boston. Do you think pointing out to them that they are paying $600,000 to live in a "slum," as you call it, is the way to attract the element you desire? By the way, anyone who thinks that East Boston is a slum, clearly has never seen an actual slum.


  • At 6:17 PM, Blogger Princess B said…

    The New Husband and I wish we could find something for under $300,000 as a starter home, but we'll probably have to move to Providence to find that kind of value. And the new house hunt begins...can't wait to move out of this one bedroom before the babies start popping out ;-)

  • At 10:27 AM, Blogger Norma said…

    As an East Boston native (who lived there for 29 years), I was thrilled to happen upon your blog. Love what you have to say and your points are clear and well-written. I, also, could not afford to buy a home and raise a family in the city where I grew up. So, by migrating to a fairly rural, remote South Shore suburb (where homes were VERY affordable in 1999) - I do feel that I abandoned my history, but, that I didn't really have a choice. I love my "new" hometown, but I do miss the place. Keep it going!


Post a Comment

<< Home

FREE hit counter and Internet traffic statistics from freestats.com