There is no debate about the fact that Boston lacks sufficient housing that’s affordable to the city’s middle class. But seemingly every project that seeks to address that problem quickly becomes a source of debate in itself. In Hyde Park, at least, there is a small victory within reach — and city officials should make sure it happens.
Two nonprofit housing developers — Southwest Boston Community Development Corporation and Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation — are proposing to build a 27-unit apartment house adjacent to the neighborhood’s Fairmount station commuter rail station. The proposal features monthly rents in the range of $1,300 to $1,500 for families with annual incomes of about $45,000. It helps address the gap between Boston’s ample stock of low-income, subsidized housing units and high-end luxury developments. And proximity to the rail station provides opportunities for families that don’t own cars or simply prefer public transit.
Some neighbors in Hyde Park have spoken against the project, but that stance seems largely reflexive; opponents have yet to articulate substantive objections about the project — or constructive suggestions about how to improve it. The housing proposal is due to come before the Boston Redevelopment Authority later this month. It would be a big help if Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who has stressed the need for more middle-class housing, were to indicate his support.
The recently upgraded Fairmount commuter rail line runs through underdeveloped areas of Dorchester, Mattapan, and Hyde Park. All of these neighborhoods would benefit from the creation of new housing units along the tracks, and especially near stations where new residents could reach jobs downtown without relying on their cars. But ill-conceived resistance is certain to crop up wherever new proposals do. By embracing the Fairmount residences, Walsh could signal that transit-oriented development is more than just a topic of conversation in Boston; it’s a solution to a serious problem for middle-class families.