There’s a lot of discussion leading up to next week’s Northland’s vote suggesting that a ‘No’ vote might actually be better for Newton because it could lead to the creation of more affordable housing.

But Newton’s affordable housing advocates feel this is a risk not worth taking, which is why Engine 6 and more than one dozen other civic groups (including CAN-DO, U-CHAN, Newton Interfaith Clergy Association, Newton Housing Partnership, Newton Urban Design Commission, Newton Economic Development Commission, Newton Citizens Commission on Energy) all supported the project throughout an 18-month long public approval process.

Here’s why:

First if the ‘Yes’ vote wins, we know we will have 140 affordable units added to our housing stock. A “No’ vote, premised on the possibility of a larger 40B project later is a much riskier proposition.

Nobody can say definitively what will happen on the site. We don’t know how many units would be built or even if the developer would build out the site with housing. What is certain, it would delay the construction of these units for years. A Yes vote will provide the largest influx of affordable units into Newton in at least a decade, sooner rather than later.

Second, the Northland project will provide 140 affordable units with the substantial amenities the Council negotiated for the city. These include traffic mitigation, underground parking, infrastructure improvements, open space, age friendly buildings and contributions to our schools.

The Northland project will also be built to the highest environmental standards.  A 40B project will have none of that.

As a result, Engine 6 and other housing activists across the city support the Northland project and a Yes vote on March 3.

Jay Walter is a member of Engine 6

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