Guest Op-Ed: Keeping Our City Housed

By Sen. Lydia Edwards & Juan Pablo Jaramillo

Revere has long been the quintessential gateway city. With a delicate balance of working-class families that have been here for generations, and a constant flow of immigrants that has continuously renewed our city and made it rich and vibrant. Sadly, today we run the risk of losing that vibrant fabric due to housing pressures that are making it difficult for new generations of Reverians to stay and for older ones to age in place. Rising rents and restrictive city ordinances have made the dream of staying in Revere unattainable, particularly for our most vulnerable working families. 

On Monday, we have the opportunity to address these concerns, to lead, and to learn from the mistakes of our surrounding sister cities when it comes to housing policy. As the fastest growing city in Massachusetts, how we grow and who we grow for, matters. We are not going to build housing portfolios for rich developers. We need to build a community. 

Communities, include all economic levels, are diverse, family focused, respectful of our seniors, and honor our veterans. That is who we are in Revere and that is who we will be if we create the right tools and plan for all. One tool is the inclusionary zoning ordinance.

This ordinance rivals inclusionary zoning ordinances in surrounding communities by ensuring deep levels of affordability so that Revere can be a home to newcomers and our seniors can afford to live with dignity in their homes. The proposed ordinance also ensures that as our city continues to grow it can compete with the development happening in other communities by including provisions that incentivize quality developers to build affordable units on-site in Revere. 

Specifically, the ordinance assures a minimum amount of affordability on each project 6 units or more. It also requires the units be built on site! The most expensive affordable 1 bedroom will be for people making $56,000 and cost about $1,600 a month (Including utilities). This is proportional to the annual income of $80,520 for a four-person household who would pay roughly $1,800 monthly for a 2-bedroom unit (also including utilities). In exchange, developers will receive relief in the form of reductions of parking requirements, a waiver of certain permit fees, and a reduction of specific dimensional requirements of the building & its units. Moreover, Revere residents will receive preference on 70% of the affordable units in each building built under this policy. 

We realize that many people may be concerned if not downright distrusting of some developers. But please know, this is the beginning of the conversation. We can and will likely adjust our housing policies like every other community. We are currently an outlier because we do not have an inclusionary development policy.

We know that this is only one piece of the puzzle to bring Revere more housing and will continue to fight in the State House for effective statewide policies. For now, this coming Monday, June 27th we urge the Revere City Council to vote favorably on the proposed ordinance to bring to Revere an inclusionary zoning ordinance that will make it a leader in the region.

Lydia Edwards is a State Senator for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Juan Pablo Jaramillo is a Revere resident, member of the Massachusetts Democratic State Committee and currently works as Political Director for the Environmental League of Massachusetts.

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