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Columbia Point’s conversion came at a cost

The many virtues of Columbia Point’s redevelopment and conversion from public to mixed-income housing, described in your article “Harsh past, harmonious life at the point” (Page A1, July 13), also came at a cost: the loss of 1,100 truly affordable housing units. This once-thriving community of 1,500 poor and working families was undermined by federal housing policy changes, massive underfunding, and institutional neglect, paving the way for its transformation into the upscale Harbor Point, in which only 400 affordable units remain, out of a total of 1,283.

The transformation of Columbia Point was an early example of gentrification, aided by government action, in Boston — a process that today reaches into virtually every corner of the city. Now comes Boston 2024's proposal for an Olympic Village at Harbor Point, to morph into a new upscale development, financed in part through city tax subsidies, with 2,700 dorm rooms and 2,453 apartments. Of these, only 319, or 13 percent, are slated to be "affordable," with an average rent of $1,800 per month — far beyond the reach of low-income Bostonians. Sadly, this is a formula that will only extend Columbia Point's legacy of gentrification.


Emily Achtenberg
Jamaica Plain

The writer is an affordable-housing preservation consultant who was an adviser to the Columbia Point Community Task Force in the 1980s.