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ISSUES   |   PROVIDING AFFORDABLE HOMES

PROVIDING AFFORDABLE HOMES

Everyone deserves safe, quality, and stable housing. Housing which is affordable is the foundation of a strong and resilient community. Bostonians, especially those in communities of color, are increasingly unable to afford to live in the neighborhoods they call home. 


Keeping up with housing demand and increasing affordability is crucial to making sure working people, families, seniors, and everyone can continue to thrive in the communities they love. It’s also a key strategy for wealth building, preventing displacement, and ending chronic homelessness. A strong commitment to housing affordability will be more important than ever throughout the recovery from COVID-19.


From an early age John appreciated how much it meant for his parents, who immigrated from Cabo Verde, to purchase their own home. Providing a stable environment for their family alleviated mental and emotional stress, and allowed them to stay in the neighborhood they grew up in surrounded by family. 
John has dedicated most of his professional life to building permanent affordable housing. As Executive Director of DSNI, he led the creation of the largest urban land trust in the country to protect the Dudley community from displacement. He created hundreds of new, affordable home ownership and rental opportunities for local residents. 


As a lifelong resident of Roxbury and Dorchester, with experience as a community organizer, non-profit leader and government official, John has the vision, skills, and experience to continue growing Boston’s economy while also increasing housing affordability and community resilience.
 

John’s record: 
 

  • As Executive Director of the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, John led the creation of the largest urban land trust in the country, leading to the creation of hundreds of affordable homes and protecting residents from eviction in Roxbury and Dorchester.

  • John worked with the Archdiocese of Boston to preserve and rehabilitate an historic home near Uphams Corner, which led to more housing for neighbors.

  • John has decades of experience bringing community members, developers, advocacy groups, banks, and government agencies to the table to preserve and create housing affordability.

  • During his time as Chief of Economic Development, the City of Boston produced more affordable housing than any other time in Boston’s history. 

  • As Chief of Economic Development for the City of Boston, John demanded more contributions from developers to the Inclusionary Development Policy Fund, put City land and resources to work creating needed affordable housing, and supported the efforts of the Housing Cabinet to advance the goals of Housing Boston 2030.

  • At City Hall, John co-led Imagine Boston 2030, the City’s first comprehensive plan in 50 years, which focused on providing housing across the whole range of incomes represented in Boston.

  • John supported the effort to implement the Community Preservation Act, which generates revenue for affordable housing, as well as historic preservation and open space. In just the last two years almost $30 million has been invested in housing from this effort.

  • John fought to increase the Linkage fees that developers pay into the Neighborhood Housing Trust (and the Neighborhood Jobs Trust).

  • John led the team working on Upham’s Corner development without displacement, including developing and executing an acquisition plan that would allow for housing to be one third deep affordable, one third moderate, and one third market rate. 

  • John was part of the team that saw the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing goals codified in the City’s zoning code. 

  • John supported the work of the Mayor’s Special Advisor on Homelessness in the Department of Neighborhood Development. While there is still much to do in building permanent supportive housing and in eradicating family homelessness, the City has housed 15,000 unhoused people since 2014, including 1,000 chronically homeless people and 1300 homeless veterans. In Boston, two percent of people experiencing homelessness are sleeping outside on a given night. This is the lowest rate of any major American city. 

As Mayor, John will: 
 

​Protect Tenants 

Even beyond the COVID-19 crisis, John will work towards lifting up residents who are at risk of eviction and often living paycheck to paycheck. John will do this by:

 

  • Taking immediate steps to assist Bostonians at risk of eviction due to the COVID-19 economic crisis by providing rental assistance and other interventions in housing court to prevent evictions. 

  • Expanding the City’s Office of Housing Stability to make sure tenants know their rights and protect them from eviction, while working with banks to restructure debt and mortgage payments so an unfair burden is not placed on small private landlords.

  • Continuing to support, as he did while at City Hall, legislative efforts that would guarantee a right to counsel for people at risk of eviction, and establish a tenant’s right to purchase any property in which they reside that is being offered for sale at fair market value.

  • Fighting for a Just Cause Eviction law, which would require large landlords to notify the City of evictions so that the City can connect impacted tenants with information about rights and resources. 

  • Exploring alternatives to up-front security deposits paid in full, which can often be a barrier for apartment seekers.

  • Providing additional funding to the Fair Housing Department to crack down on housing discrimination and clear the backlog. 

Preserve and Increase the Availability of Affordable Housing

John will secure more resources for affordable homes and public housing options, including more affordable housing for seniors and people with disabilities. John will do this by:

  • Securing the passage of transfer tax legislation that would substantially increase affordable housing funds.

  • Making affordable housing less expensive to build by exploring tax subsidies for builders.

  • Expanding the capacity of the City’s Fair Housing Office, which oversees lottery programs for affordable housing, ensuring that no deed-restricted affordable units sit empty for too long and reducing unnecessary barriers for families in need of housing. 

  • Calling on the State and Federal government to contribute more to housing affordability in Boston.

  • Using more City-owned land for affordable homes, including leveraging City-owned buildings to create housing adjacent to libraries, community centers, and other public assets.

  • Continuing to support the investment in and transformation of Boston Housing Authority properties. The deep affordability of public housing is a critical piece of our housing ecosystem.

  • Committing to raise the percentage of the Inclusionary Development obligation of developers, and to do an annual assessment of the program.

  • Creating more artist housing, so that artists, who provide vitality and beauty to our city, can afford to live and work in Boston. 

  • Streamlining the permitting process to reduce the cost of building affordable housing.

  • Continuing to support innovative methods of redevelopment for Boston Housing Authority properties, including participation in public/private partnerships and leveraging the new $40 billion in HUD funding proposed in President Biden’s American Jobs Plan. 

  • Working with the State Legislature to introduce legislation to raise 40B affordable housing requirements in Massachusetts cities and towns from 10 to 12 percent.

Focus on Climate Resilience

John will work with residents and community organizations to prepare the City’s current and future housing for climate change by:

 

  • Promoting building-level and district-scale climate resilience measures that protect homeowners and renters, especially in the neighborhoods that are most vulnerable to sea-level rise and coastal flooding.

  • Strengthening emissions standards for all new development, and leveraging existing programs like BERDO and Renew Boston Trust, to help large building owners decarbonize existing buildings.

  • Implementing and managing the proposed Coastal Flood Resilience Zoning Overlay District and Design Guidelines, and the Zero Net Carbon Building Zoning Initiative, to enhance coastal resilience and carbon reduction progress.

  • Working with community organizations and Federal, State, and Local officials to develop creative solutions that limit displacement related to climate change.

Address Racial Disparities and Discrimination 

John will help to break down barriers to housing and building wealth by:

  • Building on the City’s homeownership programs and mortgage products, so more people have access to the stability that homeownership brings, and to help Black and Brown families build wealth.

  • Supporting legislation that will address discrimination in the real estate industry, as highlighted in a recent Suffolk Law School study.

  • Supporting legislation that will seal eviction records, because John knows an eviction can create far reaching and even generational damage to families.

Work with Partners to Address Housing Shortages

John will bring all parties to the table to help build more units across the city and region by: 

  • Increasing housing production in Boston to keep up with demand and stabilize rents and housing costs, in part by supporting zoning reform so that higher-density housing can be built as-of-right near transit, and by building backstops into programs to guard against displacement of existing residents.

  • Calling on colleges and universities to build more on-campus housing, including graduate student housing, to preserve neighborhood homes for working families.

  • Working with Boston hospitals on their federally-mandated Community Health Improvement Plans so that they include housing as a means to promote public health.

  • Encouraging cities and towns surrounding Boston to do their fair share in preserving and building affordable housing.

Housing First for Those Experiencing Homelessness

John believes housing is healthcare, and housing is a right. As mayor, John will continue the good work of the Department of Neighborhood Development by:

  • Supporting Boston’s Way Home, the City’s plan to end chronic and veteran homelessness, and make all homelessness in Boston rare, brief, and non-repeating.

  • Increasing support for ‘Rising to the Challenge,’ a plan to end homelessness and housing instability among young people.

  • Leading the construction of permanent supportive housing in neighborhoods all over the city. 
    ncreasing funding for triage efforts, to try to divert people to housing or other solutions before they enter a shelter..

  • Continuing to fight for and fund housing vouchers targeted toward Boston Public Schools families experiencing homelessness.

Build and Support Shared Ownership Programs

John will create programs to allow community members to actively shape the creation of their neighborhoods by:

  • Create a fund that supports the acquisition of land and creation of affordable housing by community land trusts.

  • Support the creation of shared ownership programs like Neighborhood Investment Companies, which acquire property with capital that is raised by selling interest shares at low cost to community residents. Encourage developers of very large projects to incorporate community ownership into their projects.