A Housing Moratorium is Not the Answer
To the Editor,
At last week’s City Council meeting, a petition was brought forward by a group of residents seeking a five-year moratorium on new housing developments in Everett. A housing moratorium is a short-sighted catch phrase that correlates with the outdated approaches to housing policies that have not only failed to narrow the gap between the housing we have and housing we need, but also continues to worsen the social and economic problems our residents face. It will also tie the City’s hands when it comes to new growth and ways to replace lost revenue sources. A five-year moratorium on new housing developments is not the answer.
Soon, our city will be losing two major tax giants with the decommissioning of the power plant and sale of the Exxon property. A housing moratorium will tie the City’s hands when it comes to new development at the commercial triangle and lower Broadway and its ability to replace these tax giants. It will also impact new growth, an important revenue source which drills down to bond ratings and school funding. Making up this loss will fall on the backs of the taxpayers.
There is a misconception that growth is bad. Growth must be managed and it’s necessary for a community to evolve. While certain developments placed in the middle of neighborhoods have serious implications, we have underutilized areas consisting of scrap yards and polluted land that continue to contribute to the environmental injustices our residents have faced for generations. The planning and zoning board of appeals can have a final say on how and where things get built. The city should look to limit where these developments can go, rather than scrap them all together.
Massachusetts has a crippling housing crisis and Everett is far behind the number of houses needed to adequately support its population. Rents continue to rise at unreasonable rates and our middle class continues to get squeezed out. One of the most absurd things I heard during the hearing was that families are living in closets because of the greed of slumlords that only care about maximizing profit. Our country has a broken immigration system and inflation continues to rise at record rates with no end in sight. The failures at the national level trickle down and have real consequences on municipalities. We need more affordable housing before our community is gentrified beyond repair. A five-year moratorium on new housing developments is not the answer.
Former Ward Three Councilor