Housing in Newton:

Meeting the Needs of Seniors and the Middle Class

As everyone knows, there has been a great deal of debate and discussion as it relates to affordability in Newton. While I feel that housing prices are but one component of the total cost of living in Newton, it seems that some have tried to steer the debate only to housing with the goal of building as much housing as quickly as possible to enrich themselves without regard to neighbors’ concerns or the costs of the units.  The cost of living is not driven solely by housing, but by taxes and utility costs as well, all of which need to be addressed.  

More affordable housing is certainly needed in Newton, but I do not feel the solution is to develop a series of large scale apartment complexes where 75% to 80% of the units are selling at or above our already high sale price per square foot.  (For example – 77 Court Street’s 25 market rate units are 7% to 26% above Newton’s already high $430 per square average – source http://www.luxuryboston.com/77-Court-Condos – the developer’s sale and marketing website).  

In April, the city council passed an accessory apartment ordinance that will allow “grass-root” small scale and low-cost accessory apartments to be created and spread throughout the city.  The ordinance will allow families and seniors to create small apartments on their property with the goal of supplementing income or housing family members.  More accessory apartments will increase the housing stock in Newton, and in the price ranges needed.  I would like to give that ordinance an opportunity to work before we embark on the development of a massive series of large-scale projects that could fundamentally and irreversibly alter the character of Newton that we all enjoy.