To the Editor:
The recent article about the controversy regarding Dot Block shows the continued short-sightedness of groups like Dorchester Not For Sale and New England United for Justice. These Not In My Back Yard (NIMBY) groups and others are not facing up to the basic economics of affordable housing. I want affordable housing as well, but we are not going to get it by shouting at developers to go beyond what the city requires and the economics will bear.
As everyone knows, we have a housing crisis in Boston. Affordability is just the symptom of the underlying problem - not enough supply for the demand that exists. We must build more housing in order to take the pressure off of demand. Mayor Walsh has worked on this issue and we should support these efforts such as the recent announcement to build 459 affordable units across the city. Most of the $18 million dollars for this measure comes from the 1 percent tax that created the Community Preservation Fund.
If the NIMBY groups want more affordable housing, they should be advocating for an increase in this tax and not shouting at developers who are trying to build the housing that Boston needs. Dorchester needs to play its part in easing the housing crunch, just like every neighborhood in the Boston area should. The Dot Block plan, in particular, is an effective use of an abandoned site that was a magnet for criminal activity in the community.
I am going to assume that many members of these groups also say they care about the environment. This kind of housing (transit oriented development or TOD), is just the kind of housing we need to reduce carbon emissions and traffic by providing convenient access to the Red Line. The plans for retail will also allow more walkable shopping options and keep dollars in Dorchester, rather than going downtown.
Affordable housing needs to be looked at in the broader picture of the sustainability of cities like Boston. Building a development of any size or kind takes hard work and money. Unless the NIMBY groups have their own money to build affordable housing, they need to be willing to either pay higher taxes so more affordable units can be built, or be a constructive part of processes working within the reasonable targets set by the city of Boston’s economic data analysis teams.