Families with children don’t fit in a model

After reading as much as I could about the 150 Centre St. proposal, talking to neighbors, Boston Planning and Development Agency officials, and attending community presentations, one thing is clear. The same facts can touch different chords in different people. My perspective is that of a recently retired professional from the biotech community and as a city mom. My husband studied in Boston. We met, married, and raised our daughter here in Dorchester. As a mother, it’s always been a priority for me to think about families with children.  

This proposal is for 74 rental residences: studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom floor plans. All compact in design, 45 of which are designated affordable at 30, 60 and 80 percent Area Median Income. There will be 39 off-street parking spaces available for an additional fee. The structure will be four stories, one story higher than surrounding structures, and built close to the property line, not allowing for any green space for neighbors to congregate. The parcel is ideal for housing and will not displace anyone from the site.

These facts are not in dispute. As to what they mean to each of us, I can only speak for my family. We welcome new neighbors; this is, after all, a residential neighborhood. Yet there are no three-bedroom units of an appropriate size to house a family. Inadequate off-street parking will negatively impact already overcrowded, narrow streets. Many local residents have no access to off-street parking, or the option for paid off-street parking. With 74 additional units, one can expect a significant increase in both rideshare services and delivery vehicles. Compact units are not ideal for long-term residency.

After the 2015 study showing Greater Boston’s Black families have a median net worth of $8 went viral, it’s been a constant on my mind that affordable housing needs a home-ownership component. A mortgage with its tax deduction is the only financial tool widely available to base the building of equity in your home and generational wealth.  

I received a Tweet from HUD recently. The agency rescued more than two million homeowners from foreclosure during the pandemic with federal grants; tenants didn’t receive that assistance. In recent years, energy increases have been unprecedented. There is financial assistance for homeowners for those increases, but not for tenants. Once you own an asset, condominium, or single-family home, there are financial resources available to keep you in your home.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if 150 Centre St. were such a development? There is absolutely the need here, and it would bring financial resources, as well as long-term neighbors into this community. My parents bought their first home on a federal FHA loan. They were the first in generations to own a home and couldn’t have purchased it without that program. We have a unique opportunity here to build affordable housing that can accommodate families and promote long-term residency. Are any local development firms up for the challenge? For further information on this vision, visit buildtogethershawmut.com

Lisa Murphy is a Moultrie Street resident.