By Mayor Martin J. Walsh
Every year, more and more people are calling Boston home. Our population is growing: we’re expected to surpass 700,000 residents before 2030, which are numbers we haven’t seen in decades. This growth means that housing is in high demand.
In 2014, we released our housing plan. It’s a roadmap to help us keep up with demand by creating 53,000 new units by 2030. We’ve made tremendous progress already. Since 2014, more than 13,000 new units of housing have been created, with an additional 8,400 under construction. In addition to building more housing, we’re finding creative new ways to address this challenge.
We know that our population isn’t only growing — it’s also evolving. Household sizes are smaller, and the definition of a household is changing. Priorities are also shifting. People are working from home more often. They are more interested in sharing spaces and items more frequently. All of these changes mean that the housing stock that was built for Boston’s population in the 1950s no longer meets our needs. We need to expand options in our housing stock and meet the needs of today’s Boston.
One such option is the Intergenerational Homeshare Pilot. Together with the Boston Commission on the Affairs of the Elderly, our Housing Innovation Lab, and Nesterly, we are creating solutions for one of our city’s largest populations, graduate students; and our fastest-growing population, seniors.
The program will match older homeowners who have a spare bedroom, with graduate students who are seeking an affordable place to stay. Homeowners will get assistance with house maintenance, students will get discounted rent, and both of them gain new opportunities to engage with the local community. It is our hope that this innovative housing pilot will provide more affordable housing options for all who participate.
Already, we’re seeing the demand for this type of housing option. We’re also seeing results. To date, we’ve made eight matches between homeowners and graduate students, and we’ve received more than 80 applications. And we’re getting positive feedback so far. One of our first participants in the program described herself as an empty-nester whose new student brings a lively and pleasant presence into her home. They are cooking dinner together, and learning from one another. This pilot not only helps us solve housing needs in our City, but it also brings together different generations in a new and meaningful way.
We will continue to find new ways to serve the needs of Boston’s current and future residents. We will keep pioneering innovative housing models, and we will accelerate the pace of innovation in the housing sector. Throughout all of our work, we will bring the spirit of exploration and experimentation to one of the most important issues facing our city: ensuring everyone has a place to call home.
To learn more about the pilot program, please visit: www.nesterly.io.