The Boston Globe covered the release of a report related to the production of high-end housing in the region (“Luxury housing boom in city slows,” Page A1, Nov. 29). However, threaded throughout the data is another story. While hourly wages for workers in the 80th percentile in Massachusetts have risen, wages for the low-wage workers in the 20th percentile have dropped 4.7 percent. These are residents who are not benefiting from the economic boom and are most affected by the drop in permits for affordable housing. A total of 18 percent of permits issued in the city of Boston between 2011 and 2016 were for units deemed “affordable,” down from 40 percent of permits a decade and a half earlier.
The 25,000 families that the Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership serves each year rely upon affordable rents so that they can participate in and contribute to their communities’ vibrant social and cultural scene. These are families with average incomes of $16,000, half of whom are headed by a person with a disability and one-fifth of whom are headed by a senior citizen.
While the improvements to overall growth and the accompanying luxury housing production reflect the stature of an increasingly world-class Boston, policy makers must focus on housing production for families and individuals at the lowest income levels as well.