It seems that not a week goes by without a new report outlining the breadth and depth of the region’s housing crisis. This week was no exception, with the release of a study from the real estate website Apartment list that showed the region has added 2 1/2 times more jobs than units of housing over the past decade.
“It’s pretty striking,” Chris Salviati, housing economist at Apartment List, told the Boston Globe. “Especially over a 10-year period. That’s an extended time of not building enough new housing to keep pace with job growth.”
The Apartment List report focused on major metropolitan areas. Greater Boston, for example, added about 275,000 jobs between 2008 and 2018. During that period, it added 108,000 apartments and condos. Salvati points out that the ratio -- 2.5 jobs for every new home -- isn’t enough to keep up with job growth.
And Essex County fares just as poorly. According to the study, the county added 26,096 jobs between 2008 and 2018, while adding 9,882 units of housing. That’s a 2.6 jobs-per-housing-unit ratio.
So there’s less housing, and what there is is more expensive. That should not come as a surprise to North Shore and Merrimack Valley residents, who may nonetheless may be wondering what they can do about it.
In his report, Salviati notes affordable housing is slowly becoming a national issue, with presidential candidates weighing in with plans on how to build more affordable and middle-class housing. But at its heart, housing is a local issue, and voters have a chance to make it a priority in this fall’s elections. There are plenty of races for city council across the region -- Salem, Peabody and Gloucester all have lively slates, for example. Those candidates shouldn’t be able to earn a vote without saying what they plan to do to address the issue in their own communities. And while we’re at it, it’s also an issue in school committee races. Too many teachers -- especially those new to the profession -- are being priced out of their own communities, and too many students are living in difficult conditions that make education a low priority.
Leadership is needed on all levels, but especially at the neighborhood level. This summer and fall provides an opportunity for candidates to begin to show that leadership.