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A solution that won’t help Boston’s housing crisis

Melvin B. Miller
A solution that won’t help Boston’s housing crisis
“It’s tough being a property owner.”

The new year is when many Americans consider business opportunities. In fact, despite the unrelenting assault of Covid-19, there has been considerable thought during 2021 about the modest growth of Black wealth. There is still no effective strategy for greater Black affluence. There is little hope that a good plan will come from the mayor’s office.

In the past, working-class Blacks would often invest in a three-story walkup building in order to reduce their housing costs and develop an asset as the balance on the mortgage diminished. Their family could live in one unit and rent the other two flats for an amount that would cover operating expenses.

The objective is that the house would be paid for one day, and the owner would then have an asset that he could sell or use as collateral to finance other business plans. At any rate, that strategy was the basic step, in addition to a satisfactory pay scale, to develop family wealth.

Like most ventures, there is also risk in the family real estate venture. It is not possible to know many years in advance whether the neighborhood will flourish or become a less desirable location. Future public policy issues could develop that cause the value of residential real estate to decline in the area.

Boston has become an even more exciting city. The consequence of that is too many cars on the road and there is not enough moderately priced housing for people who want to work here. A solution proposed for this problem is to allow builders to construct housing with inadequate parking, as long as the housing is for residents with low or moderate income.

It appears that the city councilors and the mayor have not considered the impact of inadequate parking on real estate values. One of the questions a prospective buyer of a condo or a house realtor asks is whether there is deeded parking. In most cases there is no such secure parking, but it is clear that parking is a major concern.

The objective is to make housing more affordable for families with modest income. Unfortunately, the policy of cutting construction costs by reducing parking will damage the value of the property of homeowners in the area. Ironically, people with limited income might find it more difficult to solve their parking problem than the more affluent South End residents.

Roxbury can become the solid multicultural middle class neighborhood it once was. It is not good public policy to dump the Mass and Cass problem there nor to reduce street parking.