On Monday, February 24, the entire City Council got behind a resolution that will create the first task force to tackle the housing crisis in the city of Everett. The proposal was introduced by Ward 2 Councilor Stephanie Martins and Council President Rosa DiFlorio.
“Housing stability has been one of the most pressing issues in the City of Everett, and we have all heard concerns about housing from our constituents,” said Councilor Martins.
The resolution asserts that the average family feels burdened by the costs of renting or owning a home, leading some to be displaced involuntarily.
“It is crucial that Everett plan ahead to provide quality, low-cost rental and homeownership for residents whose needs are not met by ordinary operations of the market,” reads the proposal.
In government, a task force is a small group bringing together individuals with diverse skills in order to solve a particular problem. Typically they last from several months to a year. The Everett Affordable Housing Task Force will meet monthly for a minimum of one year in order to identify resources, set goals and make recommendations.
The group will assess the affordability of living in Everett, with a focus on the preservation and creation of economical housing for low- to moderate-income households. It will then establish goals for implementing inclusive development and a timeline to realize these objectives. Finally, the task force will deliver a set of suggestions to the Mayor and the City Council for how to prevent displacement and to decrease the burden of acquiring homes in the city. These could include changes to tax policy, zoning, lottery, and tenant protections.
The group will consist of 17 individuals representing diverse interests, including a representative from the business community; a non-profit housing developer; a tenant advocate; a landlord, tenant and senior citizen; an expert in urban planning; three leaders from local non-profits; a Housing Authority member; a local healthcare professional; a youth homelessness advocate; two City Councilors; and a School Committee member.
In addition, Mayor Carlo DeMaria will appoint one member, which could include a person with disabilities, an expert in local government, or a senior citizen. The administration will also assign staff to assist the task force with its clerical duties.
“This is just the beginning of positive and balanced housing measures to come and a place to get the housing conversation started,” said Councilor Martins.
Fellow councilors were quick to jump on board the resolution.
“This is one of the most important pieces we will address in this legislative term,” said Councilor Michael McLaughlin. “This piece is well overdue and well needed and I look forward to working collaboratively with the administration on this matter.”
“Councilor Martins has done a lot of work on this and I commend her for putting this on (the agenda),” said the Council President. “This is a really good piece.”
Ultimately, all members of Council asked to add their names to the piece, which will be revisited at their next regular meeting on March 9.
In adopting the task force, Everett is taking its cues from Boston and other cities across the country that are currently facing a housing crisis.
The Independent sat down with Councilor Martins, who met with Mayor DeMaria earlier to discuss her proposal.
“We had a meeting today and it was very positive in terms of the future,” she said. “The mayor wondered why no one had [created the task force] before.”
Councilor Martins said that the mayor was behind the effort 100 percent and that she will be working closely with his office going forward.