Boston’s suburban ring acts like a tourniquet on growth
Reading your article about Waltham’s housing crunch (“Live near work? In Waltham, it’s not so easy,” Page A1, July 9), I hear Motown songwriter Smokey Robinson’s refrain: “Get ready, ’cause here I come.” Singing this tune will be local millennial professionals who relocate to Austin, Texas; Nashville; Raleigh, N.C.; and other areas to cut their housing costs.
Boston is a small metropolis compared with our so-called peers London, New York, and Tokyo. Our suburban ring is becoming a collar that limits population density and growth. Over time, resistance to new housing within these hundred or so communities will relegate Boston to second-tier global status. Assuming that this resistance will continue — and that Governor Baker’s housing incentives deliver inadequate results — I see only one solution: Build high-speed rail connections between Boston’s urban core and satellite cities, such as Worcester, that have affordable housing. We have the technology and financial resources to make this happen. The question is whether we have the foresight and political courage.
The writer is president of the real estate company Global Office Link.
Housing crunch is not just a Waltham woe — it’s a Greater Boston problem
The dire lack of housing in otherwise-booming Waltham received some much-needed attention in your front-page story this week. This isn’t only a Waltham problem; it’s an everywhere problem for businesses throughout the Boston area.
Our employees routinely tell us how difficult it is to find suitable housing at an affordable price, and the region’s cost of living is one of the major obstacles in our efforts to attract new talent. We live and work in an amazing, dynamic area. Many of the highly talented individuals we recruit and hire would love to live near where they work. But we find ourselves at risk of losing top talent because of the staggering costs of housing, not only here in the city, but in suburbs such as Waltham as well.
We’ve already seen an influx of companies choosing to make Boston and Cambridge their new home, and now, because of the housing drought in the suburbs, as Tim Logan reports, some of the companies that have been there for years are “considering leaving . . . for downtown Boston.” Such moves will only increase the already astronomical cost of housing in Boston and Cambridge, the rise of which has been only slightly stunted by a massive housing construction boom.
Cities and towns across the Commonwealth need to do their part to increase housing supply. Otherwise, the state’s entire economy will suffer.
The writer is the director of finance and administration at Sungage Financial, a residential solar financing company.
The real issue is affordable housing
The article about the lack of housing in Waltham does not stress the real issue, which is not so much the lack of housing as the lack of affordable housing. These days, rent for a one-room apartment in Waltham requires a salary of about $80,000, and that’s without utility bills or move-in costs. Consider that someone working full time at minimum wage earns less than $23,000 per year. What is a lower-income family to do?
Housing in Waltham is a huge problem not only for people trying to move to the city, but for the people born and raised here. High-paid professional newcomers are displacing those long-term residents, offering higher rents for landlords. In addition, to imply that housing advocates are not interested in schools and “neighborhoods concerns” is misinformed. In fact, housing advocates are very concerned with safe neighborhoods and public transportation.
It is to the credit of the city’s officials that they do not rubber-stamp development proposals, since Waltham is not only a place for “empty-nesters and young professionals.” In fact, it demonstrates officials’ consideration for Waltham’s community and their embrace of the city’s historically rich diversity of backgrounds and incomes.
The writer is a housing advocate.