Public Housing

A Real Estate Tax Bill To Help Solve The Public Housing Crisis Was Passed In Boston

The public housing crisis has been around for decades. Areas all over the country are experiencing extreme amounts of poverty and homelessness. Resources are lacking, available shelter space is limited, and overall there seems to be a lack of motivation from policy makers regarding housing for all Americans. State and city-wide governments are working harder at a local level when it comes to this issue. Just recently Oakland, California councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan announced she would be implementing a new plan that would open up housing for the homeless on cruise ships and RV’s. Now, the city of Boston, Massachusetts is making policy moves to implement a real estate tax on some of the cities most expensive properties as an attempt to create new revenue and bring in more money to fund the development of more vacant housing options for the homeless. 

News sources from Boston reported that council members for the city recently passed a bill that would grant permission to the city to put a 2% tax on any real estate sale that’s more than $2 million. With this new tax implemented, the city could bring in up to $200 million annually in additional revenue which could be used to help solve the cities housing crisis. 

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“We are in a housing crisis the pain in our communities is getting louder … we are not building enough affordable housing and at the same time there is massive wealth being generated in our city but not necessarily for Bostonians or going toward our community. Housing is a common responsibility and those who generate wealth in our community should be a part of the solutions for it,” said District 1 City Councilor Lydia Edwards, who was the lead sponsor on the bill, to the Boston Herald.

Council members who opposed the bill argued that it’s not fair to tax the individuals who are already putting money into the community more based on property value and real estate transactions. While the real estate tax bill has been passed already with a 10-3 vote, it still needs to be approved by state Legislatures in order to actually go into action. 

Edwards discussed how the revenue that is expected to be generated from this tax would specifically go into the Neighborhood Housing Trust; which “partners with nonprofits and developers to help fund affordable housing projects.” The trust was created over 30 years ago, and in that time has spent close to $200 million building over 12,000 housing units. While those numbers are amazing, it took over three decades to achieve, and with the real estate tax, it would only take two or three years to give the Housing Trust enough money to build the same amount of units it took them 30 years to develop, according to Edwards. 

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The opposition believes that an increase in real estate transnational tax would lead to an overall decrease in housing prices, an increase in rental property pricing, and slow down future real estate development projects. However, it doesn’t seem like individuals like Edwards are willing to slow down any time soon. As it’s this type of opposition that has prevented the housing crisis from improving at all in the past. It’s time for individuals who can afford to pay an increased tax to own up and pay it, and think of those on the streets who don’t pay taxes, because they can’t afford anything in the first place to tax. 

In fact, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, commissioned his own real estate study to see how other cities in the country, who already have a tax policy such as this one implemented in their markets, were doing with the increased tax. It’s important to note that originally, the Mayor was on the opposition for this tax, but after the study, his mind quickly changed. 

The study “found similar taxes in other places had only muted impacts on real estate markets. Any tool that we have to increase housing affordability and investment in housing is important,” Walsh said outside of the meeting he was ready to sign the bill on Wednesday.