Submitting this letter to the editor about housing was Alejandro Paz of Marathon Street.
Katie Mogg’s article on Arlington’s housing crisis ("Arlington is facing a housing crisis: Experts, residents explain their views") struck a nerve with me as an Arlington resident who worries about the increasing challenges around housing costs here and around the state.
I recently moved to Arlington for the second time, having previously lived on Brattle Street about a year ago. As Mogg’s article describes, housing in Arlington has become increasingly unaffordable over time. Earlier this year, when I was deciding whether I should move back to Arlington, I was shocked to see the apartments I used to live in had risen almost 15 percent in rent since I had left. I can only hope my former neighbors can afford their rent and continue benefiting from the wonderful place Arlington is to its residents.
For this reason, I support the MBTA Communities' law that requires we adopt one zoning district that would allow multifamily housing to be built.
This is important because Arlington and Massachusetts as a whole face a housing shortage of over 200,000 homes. The last century of restrictive zoning created this situation and drives today's housing affordability crisis. This constricts our economy, cost-burdens families, and continues to separate us by wealth and income-level.
We’ve built fewer homes in the last 30 years, at a time where we’ve added more jobs to the economy and the population has steadily grown. However, if we take steps to increase the supply of housing, even if it is primarily market-rate, we could see the tide shift toward Arlington becoming more affordable, not less.
The state is requiring Arlington to zone for at least 5,115 new homes. This target is important for us to signal that we are a welcoming community, but does not require us to build this many homes.
Contrary to misconceptions, the guidelines are a flexible tool we can use to plan around Arlington’s needs. We must leverage this new tool if we are to build a more approachable housing market.
We need to adopt and prioritize the MBTA zoning guidelines. It is a major step forward for this town to ensure it can be a welcoming place to residents of varying income-levels.
This letter was published Thursday, June 16, 2022.