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Path to more affordable housing is just around the corner, and then hang a left, and then a right . . .

The living/dining area of a converted basement apartment in Mattapan. Municipalities, including Boston, are relaxing rules to allow permitting and building of additional dwelling units to ease the housing supply crunch.Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

What is ‘affordable housing’ for some is out of reach for others

In his July 27 op-ed, “A 10-point plan to increase Boston’s affordable housing stock quickly — and inexpensively,” Bruce A. Percelay includes many interesting ideas worthy of discussion. However, perhaps most important, he points specifically to building affordable homes for “the people who are the backbone of the city,” and lists “teachers, firefighters, nurses, and other essential workers.”

By doing this, Percelay answers a key question that others engaged in the affordable housing discussion often do not: affordable for whom? Far too often, the term “affordable housing” is used without ever clarifying that key question.

Without that clarity, the term is largely meaningless because what is affordable to one person is not affordable to another, and below-market housing does not necessarily mean housing for families who are homeless or a home for those who have the least ability to afford it.


As a nonprofit organization that administers regional programs in support of access to affordable housing, we work primarily with families with extremely low incomes. On average, a three-person family whom we serve has an annual income of less than $15,000.

We will continue to do our part to make sure that increased development of housing for the lowest-income renters does not waver.

Christopher T. Norris

Executive director

Metro Housing|Boston


As it is now, there are too many ways to halt development

In his “A 10-point plan to increase Boston’s affordable housing stock quickly — and inexpensively,” Bruce A. Percelay provides the next Boston mayor and civic leaders throughout Greater Boston a simple set of recommendations to help address the region’s inadequate supply of housing. I would add an 11th point: Design local rules and regulations focused on saying yes to property development and redevelopment.

As a region, we are in the current state because for more than half a century the dominant factor in building housing, and pretty much anything else, is that there are dozens of ways to stop a project but only a few ways, often expensive and time-consuming, to get approval. Turning that around is the only solution to addressing the demand for housing in the region.


Terrence F. Smith


The writer previously served as an aide to two Cambridge mayors and as director of government affairs for the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce, during which time he worked on multiple development proposals and projects.

Bid for basement apartments gives him that sinking feeling

Two articles in the Tuesday Globe are at exact cross purposes: “Rising seas called ‘existential threat’ to MBTA” (Page A1) and “A 10-point plan to increase Boston’s affordable housing stock quickly — and inexpensively” (Opinion), which advocated 8,000 basements being converted into apartments. I would call any plan to convert even one more basement into an apartment shortsighted in the extreme.

Frederick A. Liberatore

North Billerica