This is an edited version of a longer piece. (There’s a greater personal dimension to this story.) Eviction moratoriums have since lifted in Massachusetts since this was written. What’s been set up to help folks as the eviction moratorium lifts is insufficient and under strain. And, more broadly, as of this posting, 3,535 evictions were filed in 20 cities across the country over the last week.
Eddie Coyle’s new friends have gotten into real estate. Or, to put it more plain: there are days when it feels like Boston — if not most of the state of Massachusetts — has been captured by real estate interests, and no one has seemingly been able to do anything about it for years. (We’ve been talking about establishing just cause eviction protections in Boston — that is, tenants simply being told why they’re being evicted — for six years, for instance.) What makes this problem worse is the degree to which people simply don’t seem to care, the degree to which people don’t organize, the degree to which people think things are fine, the degree to those who tell the story of Boston outside of Boston still think the city is stuck in 1970, the degree to which those inside Boston still carry a Dropkick Murphy’s-like idea of the city around with them, and how I’ll bet you dollars to Dunkin’ Doughnuts that everyone will inevitably grouse about how things ‘used to be’ twenty years hence.
I grew up in Medford, Massachusetts in the 90’s. I was an undergraduate in Boston during George W. Bush’s second term. By 2001, Boston was a minority-majority city. From a ground perspective, it was (and had been) obvious. I’m not necessarily offering this up because I believe my story is the story to best explain development and displacement across the Boston Metro area, but because — even with all the places I’ve been and haven’t been — I’ve managed to keep an eye on the same story for twenty years, and even I’ve noticed a change.
Here’s where that story currently stands: as of 2018, 88% of renters in the Boston metro area couldn’t afford their neighborhood’s median rent. (The chart on the left, with the deep blue representing the inability to pay.) The city needs to build 15,000 homes every year in order to keep track with population growth. (It has never hit that threshold.) Rent is currently among the highest in the nation outside of New York City…