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Jamaica Plain strikes a blow against reverse snobbery

The approval of a 196-unit apartment project at the former Home for Little Wanderers in Jamaica Plain will create much-needed housing. The unanimous vote by Boston’s zoning board last week should also be seen as a blow to the so-called “reverse snobbery” that sometimes grips the neighborhood.

Affordable housing activists opposed the complex even after the developer agreed to include more affordable units than are required under the city’s inclusionary zoning policy. It became increasingly obvious that some groups, including the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council, are ready to wall out badly needed market-rate housing because the prospective tenants for those units don’t completely comport with activists’ views of what a diverse neighborhood should look like.


City councilors Matt O’Malley and Michael Ross stood up for the development at some political risk. Instead of feeding into neighborhood attitudes, they made sure that 33 families of limited means will get to live in an attractive development alongside higher-income tenants.

The vote sent a welcome message: Building barriers to sensible development is not the way to achieve vibrant neighborhoods.