Federal infrastructure money should be an opportunity for us to address longstanding inequities and to build strong, healthy communities. When I think about the definition of infrastructure — structures that make a community strong — I would make a pitch for housing. I’d love to see an investment in home ownership as a way of closing the racial wealth gap for those who have been denied the opportunity to own a home and build intergenerational wealth. I don’t think it’s enough to just look at the supply of “affordable” housing — which says, “To live in this house, you must remain poor.”
What I’m asking us to do is think about economic pathways out of poverty. I’m asking us to think about how we address inequities that were created through legislation that was discriminatory in nature. Most of us are willing to acknowledge this. But what are we going to do to repair the harm and create a brighter future where we can all prosper and thrive? You can’t do it without housing.
Kim Janey, who was acting mayor of Boston in 2021, is CEO of EMPath, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of people living in poverty. Miles Howard is a freelance journalist in Boston.