Pearl Clutching near Section 8 homes.

DZH22

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2006
Messages
8,552
Reaction score
13,910
"This project is set to deliver roughly 1,370 mixed income, 572 affordable, 200 middle income, and 600 market-rate units - representing about 2.5 times the number of existing units."

Honest Question: Who on earth would want to pay market rate to live in a public housing development?
 

Rhino

New member
Joined
May 31, 2018
Messages
36
Reaction score
112
"This project is set to deliver roughly 1,370 mixed income, 572 affordable, 200 middle income, and 600 market-rate units - representing about 2.5 times the number of existing units."

Honest Question: Who on earth would want to pay market rate to live in a public housing development?
I think a lot of people. New units across from a big park/beach in a neighborhood with tons of existing demand, coupled with easy access to the red line/buses for a short commute downtown and the ability to walk/bike to bars/restaurants in southie and the seaport. The end product will be a mixed-income housing development that will look nothing like the current site - as Stick noted, it will look like any other brand new market rate development in the city. I'd also point out that there are a number of affordable units included in the new buildings in the Seaport (100 Pier 4 for example) and elsewhere, and there's no issues with renting units there. Granted, the ratio of the affordable units to market rate units differs between this proposed re-development and 100 Pier 4, but the mixed-income model in general is a fantastic way to redevelop old/large affordable housing properties. By adding a bunch of new middle income and market rate housing you help with the housing crisis in the region as a whole while at the same time removing the stigma from the property being known as a "project" or "public housing", and the residents themselves don't truly know who is low income, middle income, or high income.

If/when this development is completed, people won't view it as a "project" when they walk by, and people who have just moved to the area won't even know there's affordable units there unless someone tells them. The mixed-income nature also brings more money into the deal which allows the developer to truly improve access to the site (these old public housing developments were notoriously built in the far corners of neighborhoods and difficult to get to) just as they're planning to do here, which then further improves the livability of the property. Winn is also a fantastic developer - I have no doubt this will be a transformative project and that there will lots of demand for the market rate units.
 

SuffolkHeights11

New member
Joined
Mar 3, 2021
Messages
26
Reaction score
67
"This project is set to deliver roughly 1,370 mixed income, 572 affordable, 200 middle income, and 600 market-rate units - representing about 2.5 times the number of existing units."

Honest Question: Who on earth would want to pay market rate to live in a public housing development?
That is the whole idea - mix the units so you don't have a "project" that is isolated from the rest of the neighborhood. This project, Charlestown, and Mildred Hailey in JP are all massive success stories in terms of replacing the public housing 1 for 1 with brand new units and adding a significant number of market rate units as well. There should be more buzz nationally about what Boston is doing with its public housing. This is phenomenal work and something that should be replicated in every city with large public housing projects.
 

stick n move

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 14, 2009
Messages
7,853
Reaction score
3,067
Exactly^ its going to be a mixed income community, near transit, with brand new construction. Who wouldnt want to live there? This isnt cabrini green, most new projects have to have a certain amount of affordable units anyways, so this is kind of like that on a bigger scale.
 

DZH22

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2006
Messages
8,552
Reaction score
13,910
This project, Charlestown, and Mildred Hailey in JP are all massive success stories in terms of replacing the public housing 1 for 1 with brand new units and adding a significant number of market rate units as well. There should be more buzz nationally about what Boston is doing with its public housing.
Are they success stories for the people who live there and are paying market rate? Do we have data on that? Personally, I know this specific area and don't feel particularly safe walking by. There is no way I would spend my hard-earned money to live in an area like this if I could afford to live somewhere else. They're not removing the projects, just hiding them behind a shinier object.

Also, as a matter of principle, I don't want to pay (an overinflated) full price to help subsidize my neighbors. I got a master's degree to rescue my own job prospects and earnings potential (which were both in the trash can at the time), not to bail out those who didn't.

Of course, everybody is entitled to their own opinion. Mine is that I wouldn't live in a place like this. If enough of you would, then it will be successful with or without me (or those who share my opinion).
 

Hydrobus

New member
Joined
May 1, 2007
Messages
64
Reaction score
36
Are they success stories for the people who live there and are paying market rate? Do we have data on that? Personally, I know this specific area and don't feel particularly safe walking by. There is no way I would spend my hard-earned money to live in an area like this if I could afford to live somewhere else. They're not removing the projects, just hiding them behind a shinier object.

Also, as a matter of principle, I don't want to pay (an overinflated) full price to help subsidize my neighbors. I got a master's degree to rescue my own job prospects and earnings potential (which were both in the trash can at the time), not to bail out those who didn't.

Of course, everybody is entitled to their own opinion. Mine is that I wouldn't live in a place like this. If enough of you would, then it will be successful with or without me (or those who share my opinion).
Well there have been numerous projects > mixed income re-ro's, over many years and they seem to do fine in terms of leasing. For example Columbia point to Harbour Point. This is just a new breed in that they are more dense instead of less dense, matching the old units one to one. But the ratio of affordable to market rate is about the same so I dont see a big problem.

As you note, they dont need you personally to lease as the market is very, very, hot and i'm sure there will be no lack of interest.
 

Blackbird

Active Member
Joined
Feb 2, 2014
Messages
650
Reaction score
770
I don't want to pay (an overinflated) full price to help subsidize my neighbors.
Maybe I’m misunderstanding, but “market price” is the same throughout the city and suburbs. It may be too high (and that’s another conversation) but it won’t be higher for being close to or in a neighborhood with public housing. So it’s not like you’d be personally subsidized anyone by living here.

Or are you just against public housing in general?
 

SuffolkHeights11

New member
Joined
Mar 3, 2021
Messages
26
Reaction score
67
Are they success stories for the people who live there and are paying market rate? Do we have data on that? Personally, I know this specific area and don't feel particularly safe walking by. There is no way I would spend my hard-earned money to live in an area like this if I could afford to live somewhere else. They're not removing the projects, just hiding them behind a shinier object.

Also, as a matter of principle, I don't want to pay (an overinflated) full price to help subsidize my neighbors. I got a master's degree to rescue my own job prospects and earnings potential (which were both in the trash can at the time), not to bail out those who didn't.

Of course, everybody is entitled to their own opinion. Mine is that I wouldn't live in a place like this. If enough of you would, then it will be successful with or without me (or those who share my opinion).
To clarify, the short term success is the actual replacement of the public housing 1 for 1 using the market rate to subsidize. While not apples to apples, NYC is facing billions in backlog repair costs to its public housing with no current plan on how to fix/replace them. The long term success is more of a leap of faith as you mentioned.
 

DZH22

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2006
Messages
8,552
Reaction score
13,910
Maybe I’m misunderstanding, but “market price” is the same throughout the city and suburbs. It may be too high (and that’s another conversation) but it won’t be higher for being close to or in a neighborhood with public housing. So it’s not like you’d be personally subsidized anyone by living here.

Or are you just against public housing in general?
Subsidized housing means that the costs are not fully covered by the renters, and instead have to come from somewhere else. In a complex like this, if I am paying full price and the next person has essentially the same unit that they're paying half the price for, that's the principle thing right there. If I have to pay market rate, I'd rather be around other people who are also paying market rate. In my experience people who aren't paying full price don't have as much skin in the game and tend to treat the properties accordingly. I'd rather live in a neighborhood where everybody has skin in the game and the incentive to keep the neighborhood clean, safe, etc.

If you paid $1000 for a nice piece of china (not the country) you'd keep it somewhere that would mitigate potential accidents. If somebody just gave it to you, you might leave it in the middle of the table, have it break within a few months, and it wouldn't matter to you because it was "free," not something you invested $1000 in. However, in that case too, SOMEBODY invested that $1000 on your behalf.

If your material possessions are the not the product of your own blood, sweat, and tears to purchase them, you will never appreciate their worth to the same level as somebody who had to work for everything they have. If I had to work for it (newsflash I did) I want to be around like-minded neighbors, not those who feel entitled to receive a higher value at a lower price.
 

JumboBuc

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 26, 2013
Messages
2,539
Reaction score
1,119
Subsidized housing means that the costs are not fully covered by the renters, and instead have to come from somewhere else. In a complex like this, if I am paying full price and the next person has essentially the same unit that they're paying half the price for, that's the principle thing right there. If I have to pay market rate, I'd rather be around other people who are also paying market rate. In my experience people who aren't paying full price don't have as much skin in the game and tend to treat the properties accordingly. I'd rather live in a neighborhood where everybody has skin in the game and the incentive to keep the neighborhood clean, safe, etc.

If you paid $1000 for a nice piece of china (not the country) you'd keep it somewhere that would mitigate potential accidents. If somebody just gave it to you, you might leave it in the middle of the table, have it break within a few months, and it wouldn't matter to you because it was "free," not something you invested $1000 in. However, in that case too, SOMEBODY invested that $1000 on your behalf.

If your material possessions are the not the product of your own blood, sweat, and tears to purchase them, you will never appreciate their worth to the same level as somebody who had to work for everything they have. If I had to work for it (newsflash I did) I want to be around like-minded neighbors, not those who feel entitled to receive a higher value at a lower price.
This is getting totally away from the project at hand, but I think you’re mis-understanding what “market” and “subsidized” mean. Market rent is simply the rent the market will bear, i.e., the price at which supply equals demand. Market rent is different across neighborhoods and units, and is set by the “market.” A $500 basement unit in Chelsea can be a “market-rate unit” just like a $5,000 new construction unit in the Seaport. “Subsidized” (or, often, “affordable”) rents are intentionally set below “market.” I.e., those units would rent for more if we let the market do its thing, but we’re intentionally keeping the rents lower than that.

None of this has anything to do with “cost.” It is entirely possible that even subsidized below-market rents meet the cost threshold of maintenance. But that’s a totally separate question. A major lesson everyone should take away from first semester Econ is that “cost” and “price” are different concepts, and in most market structures they are not tied one-to-one.

All your “skin in the game” points (which sound a lot like “I don’t want to live near the poors”) are something for an entirely different response, but remember that these are rentals, not ownership units. No renters are “invested” or have “skin in the game,” even if they’re paying high rents. And often, even subsidized rents to someone with lower income represent a higher cost burden than market rents to someone with higher income.
 
Last edited:

JumboBuc

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 26, 2013
Messages
2,539
Reaction score
1,119
Maybe I’m misunderstanding, but “market price” is the same throughout the city and suburbs. It may be too high (and that’s another conversation) but it won’t be higher for being close to or in a neighborhood with public housing. So it’s not like you’d be personally subsidized anyone by living here.

Or are you just against public housing in general?
No, market rents are unique to every unit. There is no one blanket “market rent” that applies uniformly. All “market rent” means is that the final rent level will be left to the market. Market rents in one neighborhood or building or unit can be totally different than market rents in another.
 

Blackbird

Active Member
Joined
Feb 2, 2014
Messages
650
Reaction score
770
Subsidized housing means that the costs are not fully covered by the renters, and instead have to come from somewhere else.
Do you have figures for what it costs city tax payers per unit of public housing? If they aren't paying property taxes and don't need to turn a profit, then I can't imagine it's very much. Or at least not much moreso than paying for the heat/electric/water for a police station, fire house, library, etc.

Or do people in public housing pay their own utilities with just the rent being reduced?

In a complex like this, if I am paying full price and the next person has essentially the same unit that they're paying half the price for, that's the principle thing right there.
Imo, the principle doesn't hold up considering you won't necessarily be paying less money for that unit anywhere. You're neighbors might be getting a needed boon, but it doesn't come at any cost or burden to you.

In my experience people who aren't paying full price don't have as much skin in the game and tend to treat the properties accordingly. I'd rather live in a neighborhood where everybody has skin in the game and the incentive to keep the neighborhood clean, safe, etc.
Soo... you just don't like poor people?

No, market rents are unique to every unit. There is no one blanket “market rent” that applies uniformly. All “market rent” means is that the final rent level will be left to the market. Market rents in one neighborhood or building or unit can be totally different than market rents in another.
In that case, market rate rent in this development may even be lower than in similar complexes around the city. Does anyone know whether the market rate units will be controlled by the BHA the same way the low income ones are/will be. How exactly does that pan out?
 

DZH22

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2006
Messages
8,552
Reaction score
13,910
Soo... you just don't like poor people?
I don't like when poor people get breaks that I don't qualify for, when I myself couldn't afford the market rate of an area. It basically says only rich or poor are taken care of in one way or another, at the expense of the middle class which just misses the cut for "free" stuff.

I also don't like being around people who don't respect their neighborhood. My gf used to live across from a house that had like 10 people living in 1 apartment, loud parties until 3-4 am, and toddlers hanging around outside after midnight while the adults drank. So if they are indicative of the average poor in America today, then I don't really want to be around that and I don't want that lack of respect seeping into my (working class) neighborhood.

My best friend used to work for Child Protective Services in Massachusetts. He has a ton of horror stories from the Section 8 apartment complexes. He had to go in and take a baby away from a family, that was in a room with a crack pipe, a passed out drug addict, and dog crap all over the floor. Those complexes got absolutely TRASHED and the people living there would complain that they had to even pay for utilities, while their rents were often free. "Not enough free stuff." I am completely against just giving things away to able-bodied/mind people who choose not to work for it themselves.

None of this has anything to do with “cost.” It is entirely possible that even subsidized below-market rents meet the cost threshold of maintenance. But that’s a totally separate question. A major lesson everyone should take away from first semester Econ is that “cost” and “price” are different concepts, and in most market structures they are not tied one-to-one.
If costs remain the same, but the price received isn't, then the profits (or at least break-even amounts) have to come from somewhere. Let's put it this way. If there were no subsidized apartments, the "market rate" we keep returning to would likely be lower. Developers are forced to recoup the costs of the subsidies on the backs of the market rate renters.
 

JumboBuc

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 26, 2013
Messages
2,539
Reaction score
1,119
In that case, market rate rent in this development may even be lower than in similar complexes around the city. Does anyone know whether the market rate units will be controlled by the BHA the same way the low income ones are/will be. How exactly does that pan out?
Right, if lots of potential market renters are like DZH and don’t want to live in an intentionally mixed-income development, then the market rents would reflect that and be lower than otherwise comparable buildings without as much of a mixed income population. I find that unlikely to come to pass in reality, but if it does then that’s not a flaw with the approach. It’s how the market works. Market tenants would in essence get something of a “discount” for living in the building. That’s fine.

And no, market rates, by definition, are not “controlled by the BHA the same way the low income ones are/will be.” What makes a market rate “market” is the fact that it is not “controlled.” If it were controlled it wouldn’t be market anymore.
 

JumboBuc

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 26, 2013
Messages
2,539
Reaction score
1,119
If costs remain the same, but the price received isn't, then the profits (or at least break-even amounts) have to come from somewhere. Let's put it this way. If there were no subsidized apartments, the "market rate" we keep returning to would likely be lower. Developers are forced to recoup the costs of the subsidies on the backs of the market rate renters.
What happens is that the developers (and the City who owns the land) turn lower profits. And tax incentives make up some of the delta too. That’s all part of the deal that the developers, the City (who owns the land), and the tax authorities have agreed to.

At the end of the day market rental prices are set by the rental market, where supply equals demand. The revenue hit developers take as a result of setting aside below-market units comes out of the ownership side of the equation, which in this model is shared between the developer and the City. It doesn’t come from the other market renters.

If your beef was that this model cuts down on City revenues than you would have a point. It does! But saying that the costs of below-market “subsidies” are borne by other renters defies basic economics.
 

393b40

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 19, 2012
Messages
1,953
Reaction score
823
I don't think I'd want to live next to Section 8 neighbors either. Still I'm sure there are a number of people who would. Market rate can mean a bunch of things too especially once you get down to neighborhoods, market rate is affected by environmental conditions as well (e.g. crime).
 

Blackbird

Active Member
Joined
Feb 2, 2014
Messages
650
Reaction score
770
And no, market rates, by definition, are not “controlled by the BHA the same way the low income ones are/will be.” What makes a market rate “market” is the fact that it is not “controlled.” If it were controlled it wouldn’t be market anymore.
Controlled may have been the wrong word. I was wondering if people in the market rate units will be paying rent to the same people as those in the low income units.

I don't like when poor people get breaks that I don't qualify for, when I myself couldn't afford the market rate of an area. It basically says only rich or poor are taken care of in one way or another, at the expense of the middle class which just misses the cut for "free" stuff.
200 units will be set aside for “middle income” households. Maybe we can agree that that number should be higher, but it’s better than nothing, no?
 

king_vibe

New member
Joined
Jun 27, 2019
Messages
36
Reaction score
70
I don't think I'd want to live next to Section 8 neighbors either. Still I'm sure there are a number of people who would. Market rate can mean a bunch of things too especially once you get down to neighborhoods, market rate is affected by environmental conditions as well (e.g. crime).
You probably do have Section 8 neighbors and you just don't know it.
 

Blackbird

Active Member
Joined
Feb 2, 2014
Messages
650
Reaction score
770
You probably do have Section 8 neighbors and you just don't know it.
I have an uncle in Brighton who has a section 8 tenant. Think he’s had the same one for a while with no issues. I can try to confirm.
 

Top