PRICED OUT: Group says 'Yes In My Backyard' to ease Boston housing crisis

BOSTON — The state is in a housing crisis and city leaders agree, building more housing for low to moderate income people is necessary.

How those units should be built is less clear.

Tenants rights groups are pushing for better fair housing legislation and policies for renters.

But homeowners in the slow-to-build suburbs want fewer units and more control over what’s being built in their community.


“We’re in a housing crisis that is most directly impacting low-income communities in the urban core of Boston," said Jesse Kanson-Bevanav of the resident group, "A Better Cambridge”. The group is spearheading the YIMBY - or ‘Yes In My Backyard’ movement in the area.

He says the best solution to solving the housing crisis is putting the people who actually live in these neighborhoods in the driver’s seat, instead of bureaucrats and developers. Kason-Bevanav says those residents know what's affordable better than anyone.




The YIMBY movement generally wants eco-friendly construction near public-transportation focused on low to moderate income units.  Kanson-Bevanav says right now, we’re seeing development for wealthier newcomers, not the people who live here already.  He believes that type of development divides the city on both wealth and racial lines.

"Newcomers with higher incomes can out-compete existing residents for the existing stock of housing,” he says.


The housing crunch could impact the region's ability to attract workers and keep the economy humming. A Metropolitan Area Planning Council study shows five out of eight municipalities including Boston, Somerville, Cambridge, Arlington, Winthrop, Watertown, Newton and Melrose experienced a net loss of middle-income residents between 2003-2008.

Marc Draisen of the MAPC says that loss of workforce in Greater Boston's booming economy impacts everyone.

"Over the course of the next 8-10 years most of the baby-boomers are going to retire," says Draisen. "They constitute 40 percent of our workforce. We don’t even have enough people living here to fill those jobs. We need housing in order to attract those workers. Make sure they can live here, move here, stay here, raise a family here.”