Need is what drives mission.
Need is where we start and where our mission comes from. This is the why part of the HCP mission equation.
For us on the North Shore one of our core needs is the availability of housing that is safe and affordable to a range of incomes.
Frankly, we have a lot of trouble doing that here. Our children are educated here and move to other places they can afford. Our parents and elderly relatives have a difficult time in their later years. People who provide services society depends on do not generate enough income to manage the rent or mortgages that our market requires. People who work to teach and protect our children, take care of our seniors, build our houses, cut our grass, create public art, write books, grow our food, run our retail stores, clean our buildings, operate our municipalities, and otherwise enrich our lives do not generate a return for their time and energy enough to support a place to live in many of our North Shore cities and towns.
They want to be here. We want them to be here. Each is integral to our communities. So how do we think about this?
The staff at HCP sees this regularly, in the long daily waiting lists for buildings like Turtle Creek and Woods, Pigeon Cove, Rockport High School and others. They hear this in the calls from public officials looking for a home for someone on the verge of being homeless, in a plea from the homeless family that walked in the office last week saying someone told them we could help them with housing, and in the single father who revealed to a colleague at a local community center that he and his children are staying with family and is seeking, with no success, a two bedroom apartment in the range of $1,300 per month. Newer rental options in Beverly for a 2 BR can range from $1575-$2595. Sometimes this includes heat and hot water and sometimes this is rent alone. Older housing stock can be somewhat cheaper but the levels are still very high.
We all see this in our own families and communities. We drive through it when going to Home Depot or Target as we pass the homeless families staying at the Econo Lodge motel.
Earlier this month the front page of the Boston Business Journal read: The Housing Bottleneck. The article described in detail the business elements of this problem and how it is nearly impossible to create average priced homes while very exclusive high end homes continue to get created. In many ways this is just the economics. The capital sources are comfortable with the demand for high end product. The developers and contractors can get high end products permitted, financed, built and occupied with a better return than average priced homes. And so, as there is economic demand, there is supply. This is reasonable and understandable.
Our problem then is highlighted. As a region we cannot house well many people who live here and many people we care about and at the least depend on.
What are we going to think about this need in front of us?
What are we going to do about it?