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.
- Seniors skimp on other necessities in order to keep themselves housed as they struggle with affording food, medicine, transportation, and housing.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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