Editors of the Bay State Banner:
Sandra Larson’s March 5th Banner article “Roxbury neighbors spar over affordable housing” was indeed thought provoking and sobering.
Our thinking in Boston needn’t be mired on the idea that the ills of urban life in undeserved communities with stubborn achievement gaps in our schools, high unemployment, high crime, and a lack of inclusive city-wide-policies will all somehow be cured by housing we can afford.
Yet, a development vision and policy that assumes these problems will remain intractable and sets and plays to the lowest common denominator – we’ve only got to be housed to somehow hold our ground – critically misses key points of good development. Namely, good schools, employment and business opportunity, low crime, and inclusive municipal policies where everyone gets a shot to improve their quality of life are all equally important!
For Roxbury or any community, it’s not just about respecting who we all are, celebrating it, and how we got here. It’s also about a path forward and our future. Least we focus only on compelling respect for our communities and not exploring where we’re going: we end up like Spike Lee, advocating for respect from a wealthy neighborhood a world away from our roots, when respect is better demonstrated by the mentoring role we play staying in our communities.
While Roxbury residents struggle to improve our schools, better utilize our unemployed and underemployed, reduce crime, and make our city a more inclusive place for all, we needn’t apologize when our hard work pays off.
No regrets for having better schools, graduating more young folks, sending them to college or trade school, which allows them to take on challenging work and careers that pay well. Nor should we fear the affluence and wealth of starting a business or owning a home that better wages brings when we’ve work hard to achieve it. Defiantly no regrets when we convince young folks that a challenging career is a better future than a life of crime. And demanding our city be inclusive and fair should be a given!
But the future of Roxbury and her residents is really about where we see ourselves going forward. We acknowledge the need for affordable housing. We also acknowledge a need to stabilize our community by building wealth with higher levels of business development and homeownership. This will require striking a balance.
Increasingly, that balance has more to do with Roxbury’s vision and what we bring to the table and less and less with visions held by developers or the city.
Roxbury neighbors spar over affordable housing
Sandra Larson | 3/5/2014, 10:06 a.m.