Rolf Goetze

Document Type

Research Report

Publication Date



Sharp cutbacks in federal aid for housing and community development now challenge Boston to become more resourceful in its housing strategies. In the neighborhoods where new solutions are needed, much has already been happening that can be adapted and expanded. Fortunately, the City's resurgence can also help achieve more results with less public resources, but a fresh approach involving community interests is essential. At the same time, local laws, procedures and programs devised to address past problems must also be critically re-evaluated to determine their appropriateness to the new realities.

Confidence in Boston's future is being uplifted, and many neighborhoods have come to experience new housing demand, even where deterioration and abandonment still persist. The new challenge is to harness this demand, tap latent community resources, and confront housing problems on a neighborhood basis, working at the margins with private and community interests, rather than simply creating a costly but limited number of rental units for disadvantaged residents, consuming all the available assistance in a few showcase developments, low-income "Cadillac" housing.

Affordability has emerged as today's dominant housing issue, as the multi-faceted, persistent housing "crisis" has evolved over the last twenty years. However, thousands of abandoned dwellings and empty public housing units remain; there are more homeless than were ever recognized before; and many more thousands of small scale properties, containing 2 to 6 units, are in tax arrears.


Prepared for the John W. McCormack Institute of Public Affairs.



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