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Good government mission for the affordable housing consumer.

BEVERLY Studio floorplan

The City of Boston can rightfully brag that it does better than most cities in the US when addressing the need for affordable housing inventory,

Take this message contained in the Boston Mayor’s State of the City 2019 speech where he said …

” We are committed to leaving no one behind. In Boston we’ve created more affordable homes than any time on record. We’ll create 1,000 new homeowners in the next five years by building more affordable homes and providing more financial help. We’ve housed over 1,600 chronically homeless people. A year ago we launched the Boston’s Way Home Fund and set a goal of raising $10 million over 4 years for supportive housing. After just 1 year, we have already raised $5 million.”


Housing policy wonks say the claim rings true, that Boston has put a larger “percentage of affordable rentals” on the market than most other cities of its size in the U.S, in recent years.

But the devil is in the details.

Politics is about the control of limited resources.  Land and money are limited resources. It takes both to create a housing unit, be it an expensive luxury apartment building or an affordable building of similar size.

And because land and money are limited, there may or will NEVER be enough affordable housing to meet everyone’s need in urban areas. Let’s face it. A substantial number of people have limited incomes. Its just the way it is.

What a housing lottery really is

A democracy is a hard thing to administer, therefore its political leadership invented THE HOUSING LOTTERY as an attempt to be fair.  This works for a lot of people. But when there are 6,000 applicants for a workforce priced building unit that has  200 openings, then the policy has not worked for 5,800 people who applied for the units.

The Beverly building
workforce priced housing in downtown Boston

This was the case at THE BEVERLY, a downtown Boston building near the North End that demonstrates an interesting way to fairly treat the pre-qualified affordable housing consumer. See chart below for the affordable rental rates in that new modern complex.

The Beverly’s affordable-housing units were offered in a housing lottery to households with annual incomes of $17,578 to $60,000, according to the developer. Rents were to start at $492 a month depending on income. It is a LUXURY apartment building complex that has 239 units. It offered 66 Affordable Price units in chart below.

Numbers like these are repeated at most Housing Lottery opportunities. But there is good news in the mix. When a building full of condos for sale to the income-restricted went to market with 11 available units, only 18 lottery applications were received by management.

Eleven people won a unit of 18 that applied. Probably, some of those 18 applications were rejected for technical reasons as they usually are.

 We spoke to one of the winners – a coffee shop manager in the Seaport. He said when it put in his application he didn’t expect to win,  but he thought “what do I have to lose” he said. The move enabled him to save hundreds of dollars a month less the going market rate. 

The $5 billion city plan

If Boston had won the Amazon Headquarters II  deal opportunity that plan called for the new construction of housing to meet the needs of  50,000 employees.  AMAZON valued the deal at $5 Billion 

Do you want to know who was going to build that new housing?  Guess no more, we have the document.
Click here to read it.

This writer would like to think that a BEVERLY-like solution with the scale of the Amazon buildout can be constructed.  The Affordable Housing industry uses a rough figure of $400,000 each to build a unit to meet standard requirements in urban areas. That cost is all inclusive of land, construction materials, finance cost, labor and all that. 

If it cost $400,000 a unit and there are 50,000 people looking to access affordable housing at the BEVERLY  income ranges stated above, then there is cash to work with. It would cost $20 Billion to build 50,000 affordable price units. 

The Beverly rent rates
at the 2018 lottery closing

Would an extra 50,000 affordable housing units take the pressure off? You bet it will! If you divided the $20B construction cost of 50,000 new units by the 50,000 people now in the market looking for a unit, you’ll arrive at a figure of $40,000 per person.

This simple math can be looked at any way you want, but from the calculations,  there appears to be enough regular cash flow coming from 50,000 renters to pay off the $20B construction cost, while holding tenant monthly housing cost to an amount no more than 40% income all inclusive. The Beverly affordable rent range started at $492/mo and ended somewhere north of $2,000 per unit scaled to income.

Eminent domain property taking is necessary to put up a new apartment complex of this magnitude. Boston mayors have unusual powers. They are tremendous.  

What does financing $20B over 15 years look like? Chances are with all the rent coming in against it, there would be a profit to be taken that can pay for building a few more 50,000 affordable unit packages where they need to go.  Look around Boston, don’t disturb the greenspace and figure how to do it. 

Letter from the Publisher
Smallwall.net
@movef Tweets

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These software apps help tenants manage Landlord problems.

Renters in New York are no different than Boston renters except they get less for their money.  This could be why volunteer software coders in New York  meet on a regular basis to make software apps for  tenants who have landlord problems.

One records renter problems with heat to help report bad landlords. https://heatseek.org/history/

Another one tracks buildings going through displacement. www.displacementalert.org

The app Who owns What helps tenants find exactly who owns buildings and rentable properties no matter how many LLC corporations the owners hide behind It does data science to compare common data between various public records.

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THREADMARK on track to open after fire.

Threadmark to re-open soon after fire.  Here’s a look at the rental rates units at Threadmark will be going for when it re-opens after the fire.

Studio $515, $1030 and $1056.00 per month depending on your income.

1BR lottery rent rate is $552, $1104 or $1261.00 depending on income.

2BR lottery rent is $662, $1324 and $1,567 depending on income.

* Lottery rent rates only are being shown.
No other sizes are listed for lottery.

Thirty-five rent reduced apartments were offered by lottery.

INCOME LIMITS WERE:

Household size of 1 person with  income between $20,610 and $41,220 qualify for lottery.

Two person households with conbined Income between $23,550 and $47,100 qualify for lottery.

Three person households with combined income between $26,490 and $52,980 qualify to for lottery.

The sales sheet offers units to Household (HH) sizes of four  to six persons for  income steps from $29,430 to $68,280 at upper limits  by HH size.

r.

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Create Space in Your Home by Getting Organized

Organize your space

by Julian Lane

Its the first day of autumn in New England. Start Now!

Does your home seem too small? That could be the case even if you live in a mansion, as that’s what happens when you’re not organized. Stuff just seems to spill out of the cupboards and closets and onto the floors and tables, making you wonder what happened to all those spare square feet you had when you moved in. You know exactly what the solution to this problem is, and yet getting everything in order seems so monumental that you don’t know where to begin. Here are a few suggestions that will make the whole thing quick and easy.

Purge Old Junk
Staying organized is impossible if you have too much stuff, so you need to get rid of some of it — for the sake of your own sanity. According to a writer with House Beautiful, cluttered environments overwhelm you and lead to stress, so there’s more at stake than just aesthetics. It’s not an easy task, though, so take it step by step and room by room, committing enough time to the process by saying “no” to distractions. The upside: You may be able to make some money by selling your undesirables at a yard sale.

Think Vertically
If you think there’s no more room, look up before you give up. Good Housekeeping has a few suggestions for using all that space from floor to ceiling, such as installing towel bars with hanging hooks on the wall in your kitchen, preferably near your stove or counter so you can reach for spoons, spatulas, and lids as you need them. Elsewhere, imagine a few anchors attached to the backs of doors with colorful tote bags where your kids can put their toys.

Expand Your Closets
Sure, you’re already using them, but probably not to the maximum. Your decluttering efforts have already freed up space previously taken up by clothes you haven’t worn in years, but there’s still work to be done. First, search for any extra cubbies and cases that you’re not using and use them to store shoes, books, and other items that don’t belong on your bedroom floor. Lastly, add another rod and more hangers to hang up whatever else you can.

Put Things in Storage
That sled does not belong in the closet in the middle of summer, and ditto for the surfboard when the snow is falling. If you have a basement or attic, use them. They are the perfect places for a number of bulky items, including holiday decorations and those pots and pans you only use when making a massive Thanksgiving dinner. Anything smaller can be put into labeled boxes so you can find them when you need them, but be sure not to include old photos or anything else that could be destroyed by excessive heat or humidity.

Divide Your Drawers
There’s more room in there than it seems, and some dividers will help you make the best use of it without spending any money as there’s a DIY solution. All you need is some cardboard, a box-cutter and a tape measure so everything fits into place. You need not be an expert handyman as the whole process simply involves cutting notches in the cardboard and fitting everything together to create divided cubby holes for better storage.

Shop Wisely
Once you’ve organized everything, don’t let it fall into chaos once more by spending money on stuff you don’t need that just take up space. In fact, Reader’s Digest has a
list of items that you should never buy for exactly this reason. Novelties and trendy clothes top the list, which should come as a surprise to absolutely nobody, but there’s also fad cookware and dollar store items to say “no” to.

The takeaway is to use your brain when shopping or deal with the consequences. A place for everything, and everything in its place. That’s what you’ll get when you’re done with these efforts — and a bigger living space, or at least one that looks like it.

Image via Pexels

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Cigarette smokers want pot smoking banned in apartments and condos.

Even a licensed medical marijuana patient won’t get a break when apartment management and condo associations implement new rules against cannabis users.

The smell of pot smoke swirling around the building has pissed people off who don’t like it.

While most new luxury apartments ban all smokers, cigarette users have had freedom to smoke.

Now, condo associations are asking them to join a policy that allows tobacco and bans pot smoking from the premises.

Watch the sales of pot sniffing dog services, electronic smoke detectors installations and other evidence gathering techniques increase in volume as Massachusetts moves closer and closer to allowing retail stores to flourish.

While more than half of the 351 Massachusetts cities and town councils have voted to limit legalized cannabis retail shops from opening, City of Boston voted 8-1 in favor of legal retail street sales.

On the one hand, people want to be comfortable in their own home and smokers can make people uncomfortable. On the other hand people believe it is a violation of their constitutional rights to ban smoking of one kind while allowing another kind.

Growing marijuana plants at home are also a bone of contention at some residences.

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This elected Boston Councillor accepts help from people who believe the rent is too damn high!

Earlier this week, Smallwall Writer asked you to respond to an effort to restrict AirBnB apartment rental volume in the City of Boston. Then we wrote a letter to the movement leadership. ( Photo of small house adapted a Boston Globe article.)

We heard back a day after.

This is the letter we received.

#

From Councilor Tim McCarthy

timothy.mccarthy@boston.gov

The issue of short term rentals is an incredibly complex issue that will have many years of positive or negative impacts on the City of Boston. I will continue to work with the administration and my colleagues in order to get a solid ordinance that addresses this issue.

I appreciate your email and your advocacy.

Tim McCarthy

District 5 City Councilor

Boston City Hall- 5th Floor

Boston, MA 02201

617-635-4210

@mccarthy4boston

What you see out your front door- is important to us!

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Send corporate AirBnB raiders this letter today. It helps put more rental apts back on the market.

a dollar for an idea

When a 170-unit apartment building opened. In Jamaica Plain, a corporation scooped up 24 units at full rent. They loaded in furniture and began renting to short-term users for $210 per day.

When a West coast city passed a rule banning this practice, thousands of apartments came back on the market overnight.

You can help stop the raids in Boston.

Email the letter below

to: citycouncilstr@adco.boston

Adco Boston is the campaign

to stop corporate AirBnB

**********************
TO: Boston City Council Members:

I am writing to support the Mayor’s Ordinance on Short-Term Residential Rentals in the City of Boston.

The elimination of the Investor Unit category will preserve housing opportunities for our residents and better ensure the mitigation of potentially significant negative impacts on our downtown neighborhoods.

I urge Councilors to vote ‘yes’ on the Mayor’s ordinance.

Thank you,

Your name
Your address in Boston
*******************
END OF MESSAGE

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How to file online for subsidized housing in Massachusetts. Did you know?

How to File Online for Subsidized Housing in Massachusetts.

Subsidized housing properties are  where you pay 30% of your income to tent that unit.  Housing authorities own the buildings. But private developers own buildings where some are offered by Lottery. Housing Authorities or ( HA ) use the Wait List system. There are benefits to go digital and saving time plus having a digital bot walk the streets looking for vacancies for you.

Step one:  COMPLETE THIS FORM

Step Two: Give it to your housing advocate working your case. Ask them to file it with Housing Works.  If you don’t have an advocate hold it. Tell us you want to file it electronically and we will work with you on that.

New Open Waitlists ( subsidized 30% income type) have opened in the towns of Lynn, Lunenberg, Stoughton, and Boston.

Depending on the Authority or Property, these lists are open to:

Families
Individuals
Elders
Persons of any age with various disabilities
Veterans

Online filing will:

– Automate most of the filing process.

You start with a paper form.

– the filing generates pre-filled applications to all subsidized/affordable housing;

– the system will show a list of other advocates working with the same clients;

– the system prints instant charts of all the places a client has applied;

– the system creates pre-addressed letters to mail out to every place a client has applied.


Or you can do it manually – by calling each public housing about the openings.
click for a list of authorities

When you want to file digital, you start by returning a paper application.

This is the paper application —  View the Application form here.

You return it to people who are authorized to enter it into the digital system.

People who do this may work with agencies and its their job – if you have a case with them.

If you don’t have an open case request filing help.

 

 

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HUD gives $1.2Million to renew support for 32 HIV-AID housing programs via Gloucesters’s Action, Inc

Programs to support people in need of affordable housing who have HIV-AID received $32 million from HUD in December 2017 across the United States.

$1.2 million of the round went to Massachusetts firm Action, Inc. https://actioninc.org/ to support the 32 HIV-AIDS housing programs in their portfolio.

Action Inc receives millions in awards to assist disadvantaged individuals.

Learn more from HUD at https://www.hud.gov/press/press_releases_media_advisories/2017/HUDNo_17-118