BOSTON — Mayor Michelle Wu outlined her work to make Boston a “growing, green, family-friendly city” where everyone can afford to live and thrive, during her inaugural State of the City address on Wednesday night.
Mayor Wu took office in November 2021 and for the very first time looked back on her accomplishments, and failures, and outlined her future plans for the city of Boston.
Wu talked about how she and her team tackled the problems at Mass and Cass head-on as hundreds of people were living in unsafe and unsanitary encampments during the winter months. “We built a new model for housing and services so tents could come down and people could heal,” Wu said.
When the MBTA decided to make major repairs to the Orange line and Green Line, “every city department stepped in to keep Boston moving and proved that a more connected, coordinated system is possible,” Wu said. “Tonight, I’m renewing my call for the people of Boston to have a seat on the MBTA Board.”
Along with updating the MBTA, Wu, her team, and city departments turned to the roadways and accelerated over two dozen miles of new dedicated bus lanes, expanded the bike network, and organized even more neighborhood Open Streets events.
Mayor Wu and her team dealt with much more than expected when violence in the city rocked the communities. “Our police officers took nearly 900 guns off our streets,” according to Wu. “We are looking to end community violence with new strategies to address trauma and provide essential support—from our Youth Safety Task Force to an alternative crisis response program with EMS and behavioral health services.”
However, with all of the challenges Wu and her team faced over the past year, she announced new plans and orders that will only benefit the city’s major concerns which include, the housing crisis, going green, and education.
“Our housing crisis displaces children and families, drives down enrollment in schools, hurts local businesses, increases homelessness, and strains our public health and safety systems,” Wu said.
Last year, the Office of Housing permitted 3,800 housing units, the most since 2018, including 1,300 affordable units, the most in a generation.
“We’re putting city land to work,” Wu said. “Local builders: work with us to design high-quality, affordable homes that enhance the surrounding neighborhood, and we’ll give you the land for free. And we’ll provide increased mortgage assistance so our residents can afford to buy these homes.”
This provides increased mortgage assistance so residents can afford to buy these homes and her team will update zoning across the city to complete neighborhood planning processes to bring “thousands of new homes and support the small businesses, retail, and jobs that make Boston a vibrant cultural hub.,” Wu said.
“Our neighborhoods must be climate resilient and community focused. This year we will launch a civic and green space master plan, and begin design for new community centers in Grove Hall and the North End.,” Wu announced.
Wu said she and her team will help residents invest in retrofitting older homes, like triple-deckers, to help with inflation through and executive order she plans to sign that requires all new city construction and major renovations in our schools, municipal buildings and public housing to be 100% fossil-fuel free.
Along with signing order to help housing and inflation Wu is focusing on education built throughout the city. Making changes to speed up not just the individual schools but the entire district.
“Superintendent Skipper and I won’t settle for anything less than academic excellence across all our schools, accessible to all our students,” Wu said.
Newly created leadership roles focused on staff and resources down to the school level. Wu said she and her team are investing $50 million in inclusion so “every student gets the education they deserve.” Wu said she plans on investing in social workers and counselors at every school with bilingual staffers as well.
“If we expect our young people to be the leaders our world needs, then it’s on all of us to take every step to ensure they have the skills and experience to meet this moment,” Wu said.
Wu said a little girl recently asked her what it was like to be Mayor and she said:
“It can feel surreal and stressful, exhausting and empowering—it feels like the most important work in the world. But more than anything, it feels like a gift: To be able to get up every day and go to work for the city I love with people who love it, too. People are unafraid to do things differently—willing to meet crises with creativity, and reach deep in the dirt to pull up the roots of the challenges that block our view of the sky. Boston is a city that will never stop reaching—up toward the progress we know to be possible, and out to the community whose work makes it lasting.”
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