I was at a meeting at the library tonight.  It was largely about something called CDBG funding.  It’s roughly $1.5 million a year that the federal government has been giving to Newton as a block grant.  The city can choose to spend it in a wide variety of ways.  Historically they have been spending roughly 55% of that on housing issues.   Among the housing needs/programs it goes towards – first time mortgages, housing for chronically homeless, general low income home creation, low income home improvement funding ….

When I saw that list and realized that they were talking roughly $850,000 per year in a town where that’s not too much more than the price of an average single family home, I realized something was out of whack.

Later in the meeting, Rev Haywood from the Myrtle Street Baptist Church got up during the comment section.  He asked the planning dept what percentage of Newton housing would be in the affordable category if you took out the 40B housing.  They said roughly 2%.  Rev Haywood said “so the ONLY thing that has had any effect on the supply of affordable housing in Newton is 40B housing, yet every single 40B project that is ever proposed is fought tooth and nail, over and over again by the citizens of Newton.  If we fight every 40B project then we should face up to the fact that we really DON’T support affordable housing.”

So my questions to everyone who says “I’m all for affordable housing but not 40B housing”

* What would you do instead of 40B  that could significantly increase the stock of lower income housing in Newton?

* Why would you think this would work when up to now nothing other than 40B has “moved the needle” of affordable housing?

* Extra Credit Question – Can you point to somewhere else where this alternative approach had any noticeable effect on the overall amount of affordable housing in a town?

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