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  • John Spritzler

100%, NOT 20%, AFFORDABLE HOUSING IS WHAT WE NEED, WANT, DESERVE AND AIM FOR

Some people and organizations (such as the BACC) say, "All we want is 20% affordable housing instead of the current Boston City law requirement of 13% in new housing developments."


This is absurd!

There should be 100% affordable rental units or condominiums or homes in new housing developments. Here's why.

#1. Why should 100% of new housing be affordable?


As long as there are working class people (making 5-figure, not 6-figure annual incomes) who cannot afford to live in our neighborhood because they can't find an affordable place to live and who are being driven out of their neighborhood by gentrification, then there is no morally valid reason for ANY new housing not to be affordable--none! And by "affordable" I mean affordable to people making a 5-figure annual income, which is NOT the City of Boston's definition of "affordable." The City of Boston says an apartment is "affordable" if a person earning $125,000 per year can pay the rent with 35% of his/her income. (Go here for the details about this.)

#2. But where then will the rich people live?


There should be no rich and no poor (go here to read some of the reasons why.) Until that is the case, the rich people can damn well live in the same good and decent housing that should be made affordable to working class people. If anybody deserved to live in luxury housing, it would be a hard-working janitor in our public school and not somebody who just collects art, like Alice Walton who owns more than $40 billion.

#3. But how will developers make a profit if they can't build any luxury housing?

Who gives a damn whether the developers can make a profit? There are two different reasons why the rich and powerful do things. One reason is, obviously, to make a profit by doing it. The other reason (that the rich don't want us to be aware of) is to reduce the risk of revolution by doing it.


For example, FDR instituted the New Deal, including Social Security, ONLY because he feared there would be a revolution if he didn't, as you can read all about here. Likewise, LBJ--a notorious racist--pushed through Congress the 1964 Civil Rights Act that abolished the racist Jim Crow laws ONLY because he feared there would be a revolution if he didn't, as you can read all about here.

When there is an increasingly large egalitarian revolutionary movement growing that is fueled by anger at injustices such as gentrification, then the rich and powerful will be motivated to "calm the revolutionary waters" by creating lots more affordable housing--even if it means DECREASING their profits. The rich and powerful didn't make a profit by creating Social Security. And they didn't make a profit by ending Jim Crow. But they did these things anyway. So, if the rich and powerful can't figure out how to make a profit by creating affordable housing for all, then let's give them another reason for doing it.


These photos of more than 500 people in Brighton show they have exactly the right idea.


#4. But if there's 100% affordable housing in new developments won't this make our neighborhood too dense?

Some people wrongly oppose the creation of more affordable housing in a neighborhood on the grounds that it would make the density of housing (i.e., the number of living units in a given area of land) worse. Good people may certainly have reasonable concerns about the density of housing. Ideally housing density should be neither too low nor too high. The higher housing density of cities compared to rural towns is what attracts people to cities, because the higher city density means there are more people close by and hence more things to do and see in a city than in a rural town. But when the density is too high it is counterproductive.

Housing density (and the general design of buildings) should be decided democratically by the people in the local community who value no-rich-and-no-poor equality and mutual aid (i.e., egalitarians, the vast majority of people in most communities.) But today, in our society based on class inequality with some rich and some poor (i.e., many have-nots and a few haves), all of the key decisions that determine housing density are made totally undemocratically by the rich.


One such key decision, for example, is this: Where will businesses be located and hence where will the employees want to live and hence where will housing be built for the higher-paid employees? Corporations often want to locate in the same major city, which creates high density housing there. This may be good for corporate profits but not good for regular people.


Another such decision is this: What locations will be connected by good means of transportation? As long as the corporations' employees can get to work and their customers can get to where they need to get to buy their products, the corporations don't have any motive to create better transportation for all of the needs and desires of regular people. If ordinary people want jobs and housing to be more spread out and transportation made appropriate for this, but this doesn't maximize corporate profits, then jobs and housing will not be more spread out and transportation will not be made more appropriate for that.

The profit-motivated decisions of the rich do not necessarily result in a good level of housing density, often far from it.


Truly to create good housing density will require that there be a genuine democracy (as discussed here) in which good people, as equals, with a concern for desirable housing density rather than for enriching the few at the expense of the many, call the shots. Only then will key decisions that affect housing density be made by those who want desirable (for the people who live there!) housing density.


Building an egalitarian revolutionary movement to remove the rich from power to have real, not fake, democracy with no rich and no poor is the way to a) make the rich afraid of what might happen (being removed from power) if they continue to treat us like dirt by building luxury housing and promoting gentrification, and b) transfer power in society to the vast majority of people who want desirable housing density.

Those who oppose the egalitarian revolutionary movement against luxury housing developments and gentrification on the grounds that we need better housing density are part of the problem, not the solution.



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