Commentaries Real Estate

Supporting Affordable Housing in the North End

Maria Stella Gulla, Director, NE/WE NSC

Dear Friends and Family of ABCD:

The purpose of this letter is to support affordable housing in the North End of Boston, and this is a cause that drives me both professionally and personally. I grew up in the North End as a child in the 1950s and 1960s and recall when the neighborhood was a working-class place where 4 rooms rented for $50 a month. In the blink of an eye, my neighbors have reached their 80s and 90s, struggling to stay in the neighborhood that they have called home for their entire lives. They and their families built this community and have made it one of the most attractive sought-after neighborhoods in Boston…at a steep price, literally and figuratively. The same space rents today for $2,800-$3,000 a month, and to purchase, at least $850,000.

My staff and I have seen first hand how the lack of affordable housing has impacted the seniors we serve. We have seen hundreds of elderly evictions through the years, especially with the demise of rent control in the 1990s.

  1. Seniors skimp on other necessities in order to keep themselves housed as they struggle with affording food, medicine, transportation, and housing.
  2. A large portion of available housing is not adequate for the needs of older adults. This holds especially true in the North End, as many residences are walk-ups with no elevators and century-old buildings that have not been renovated.
  3. Especially in the North End and West End, there is the need for shuttles so that seniors can cross the two neighborhoods and access services and resources in both neighborhood. The MBTA is accessible and reasonably affordable, but not for seniors that are becoming increasingly home-bound.
  4. Lack of integration between housing and healthcare increases costs and puts the independence of older people at risk. Home- and community- based care allows older adults with healthcare needs to avoid expensive stays in long-term facilities and readmissions into hospitals.

The most vibrant, attractive neighborhoods are the ones that are the most integrated and balanced, with many cultures and generations living together, from young families, to couples, to seniors, and everyone in between. With education, planning and resources, older adults and those who support them have the ability to change course and improve options available to people as they age. If you have any questions or require any information on this vital issue, please feel free to contact me at 617-523-8125.


Maria Stella Gulla
Director, NE/WE NSC

14 Replies to “Supporting Affordable Housing in the North End

  1. Are you initiating something? I’ve notice a lot of construction and the BRA. Has not been offering anything I would see affordable .

    It’s political right I’m from here and my mom has been on a list for 9years to get housing she can afford. We’re told she would need to check into a shelter to qualify. Well that’s not happening.

    What can be done to change this. Lots of money coming into our city . what do the citizens get?.. Besides the traffic and noise?

    Thank you for bringing light. But what next.

  2. Very well-presented crisis for the public to note. We can see that you are very devoted to the seniors,which is reflected in the way the ABCD center is run. Thank you.

  3. Although this is a great idea, you must remember, with affordable housing comes, all kinds of people that need housing. i.e: Drug addicted, alcoholics, homeless and lots of riff raff. Please keep in mind that the North End is still one of the safest neighborhoods in Boston because, yes, the neighborhood changed, but it changed for the good. We don’t have rapes, robberies (once in awhile) or seniors getting beaten up for no reason or mugged coming out of banks.
    I am a life long resident and my parents bought my building in the mid 70’s when everyone else was selling their buildings for big bucks. I still live here and I’m raising my children here. Please think twice before you fight for affordable housing. IF, the North End gets affordable housing, most likely, you and the North End residents that need it, won’t get in. What the North End really needs is a high school! It would be nice to fight for the children growing up here, they have nothing except the Nazzaro Center.

    1. No the North End does not need a high school. Good for you that your parents bought a building and you get to live in it for practically nothing. We do need affordable housing especially for seniors. The waiting lists for the Michaelangelo and Casa Maria are five to ten years long and yes people from the north end are not getting in while others are. But that does not change the fact that more and more seniors are struggling to keep a roof over their heads , eat, and pay for their medication. Your lack of understanding and irrational fear of what type of people affordable housing will bring to the North End is mind boggling.

      1. You may not want to hear it, but ask anyone at Ansonia or Michelangelo, they are drug dens and it mostly goes unreported. I know someone who just got in (1 year, by the way, not 5-10 years wait) and she can’t wait to get out. Be careful what you wish for.

        1. The Michelangelo is quite decent. Metro Management, East Boston, manages it. Calling it a drug den is a bit over the top. It is not. The people are very decent. There are two cases of drugs, and people are aware of it. Ausonia, on the other hand, is questionable senior housing. We do need more housing, but not high risers !

        2. Johnny O, you may not want to hear this but most of the junkies living in the North End are probably your next door neighbors who you & I have known for decades.

      2. Incredulous~ We do need a high school in the North End. As of right now there are 3 Eliot Schools and St. John’s. The Eliot has over 1,000 students and St. John’s approximately 300. When these students eventually graduate from 8th grade, where are they going to high school? Some children either don’t get into test schools (Boston Latin and Boston Latin Academy, The O’Bryant School) or they chose they don’t want to. There are lots of children growing up in the neighborhood.
        And yes, I am fortunate that my parents’ bought property in the North End but for you to say that I “live there for practically nothing” is rude, ignorant and “mind boggling” to me, as you know nothing about me. Do you know how much property tax are in the City of Boston? Water and Sewer? etc,

    2. KMG: North Enders are first to acquire senior housing. There is no riff-raff wandering in. I understand your concerns, and you do not have a lack of understanding, as someone commented.

      1. Elizabeth~
        Thank you! North Enders do not have the first pick for Elderly Housing in the North End (sad to say). For the person who commented that I have a lack of understanding obviously doesn’t know me or much about housing/elderly housing in Boston.

    1. I think it is usually a community development organization that does the Senior housing. If I remember correctly , the east Boston Community Development Organization developed and manages the Michaelangelo project. Not sure if they purchased the old school or the city donated it. Boston City Councilor Sal LaMattina is a good person to ask about this.The Ausonia is owned by the city.

  4. All of the comments have some merit … However whoever said druggies homeless and people you don’t want to live next door or any place near ,you are correct , those are the priorities on the list for affordable and also section 8 so most people won’t be elderly from the n end also on the list are homeless that have lived in a shelter for at least one year and have a child , so they go into a shelter , have a kid in the shelter and then by pass everyone on the list … It’s totally discusting and when you see the people that get in you will want to run …it’s going to get worse as everyone is turning senior
    My mom is 94 and I took her with me …. She was born on wait street Mission Hill in 1922 was a property owner all her life worked for the telephone co then the mbta which in 1942 was the mta .. In those days when you got married you had to leave ….
    Senior housing is a must asap and also be strict who you let in Boston seniors first by age ,a seniority system
    When I first moved into 14 n square in 1972 it was 60.00 per month those were the days
    Someone has to start sticking up for seniors … Daval Patrick started all that stupidity letting homeless with a baby no. one on the list … That means we pay for the housing because they get section 8 we pay for ebt card food /welfare money / we pay for the kid /the lights and phone are free /the Internet is free / it’s about a free 60,000. Dollar package we pay for…. Medicaid all free…..

    1. People with kids cannot get into SENIOR HOUSING. You must be 62 or if you are disabled you can get in at a younger age. You are talking about low income housing that is open to families or everyone. Giving seniors preference by age is nonsense. If someone who is 62 meets the criteria and gets an apartment that is the way it goes. a $60,000 package, Pack it up with facts and non fox news sources. BTW. there is no more section 8 unless someone has had it before.

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