Boston Globe: What is ‘affordable housing’ for some is out of reach for others

Source: Boston Globe

July 29, 2021

In his July 27 op-ed, “A 10-point plan to increase Boston’s affordable housing stock quickly — and inexpensively,” Bruce A. Percelay includes many interesting ideas worthy of discussion. However, perhaps most important, he points specifically to building affordable homes for “the people who are the backbone of the city,” and lists “teachers, firefighters, nurses, and other essential workers.”

By doing this, Percelay answers a key question that others engaged in the affordable housing discussion often do not: affordable for whom? Far too often, the term “affordable housing” is used without ever clarifying that key question.

Without that clarity, the term is largely meaningless because what is affordable to one person is not affordable to another, and below-market housing does not necessarily mean housing for families who are homeless or a home for those who have the least ability to afford it.

As a nonprofit organization that administers regional programs in support of access to affordable housing, we work primarily with families with extremely low incomes. On average, a three-person family whom we serve has an annual income of less than $15,000.

We will continue to do our part to make sure that increased development of housing for the lowest-income renters does not waver.


Christopher T. Norris

Executive director

Metro Housing|Boston


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