Recently, the City of Boston announced the creation of the Acquisition Opportunity Program, a $7.5 million loan fund designed to keep currently-affordable rents low. LISC Boston was instrumental in the development of this anti-displacement strategy, and we applaud the City’s commitment to mitigating the impact of gentrification.
In 2014, we and the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations (MACDC) formed the Gentrification Learning Community, a diverse group of residents, community development professionals, and neighborhood organizations, to study the issues causing displacement in our city. At the same time, along with our partners at The Boston Foundation and the Department of Neighborhood Development, we convened the Acquisition and Conversion Working Group, a consortium of more than 20 organizations including CDCs, funders, and city and state officials, to identify strategies for allowing low- and moderate-income people to stay in their homes.
What we found is not news.
Skyrocketing real estate prices, an aging and inadequate housing stock, and a slower-than-average recovery from the Great Recession among minority and low-income families all contribute to the problems of gentrification and displacement. But the solutions we came up with offer real promise.
Sheila Dillon, Chief and Director of Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development, says "Mayor Walsh has made it very clear to us that we needed to think creatively about new ways to help tenants remain in their homes -- he wants to make sure that the people who have lived in their communities for years can remain there. With the help of partners like LISC and the Boston Foundation, we developed the Acquisition Opportunity Program as one way to attack this problem. We know that it is only one tool, though, and that much more work needs to be done. But we are excited about this pilot program, and grateful to have supportive partners to help us."
The program has the potential to prevent not only displacement, but homelessness as well. It will also allow workers to remain near their jobs, and children to stay in their neighborhood schools.
Perhaps most important of all, when people can stay in the homes they’ve chosen, the fabric of community remains woven tight: Neighbors look out for their each other and their neighborhoods, helping to keep everyone safer, healthier, and happier. And that is an outcome that LISC believes everyone deserves.