Mayor Walsh announces gains towards a more equitable Boston
Mayor Martin J. Walsh today addressed the Boston Municipal Research Bureau announcing both new initiatives and gains in the growth of Boston's innovative economy, while highlighting the city's work in reducing inequality. From advancing Boston's goal of ending homelessness, to striving to provide a quality education from pre-kindergarten through college, to urging employers equip Boston's diverse workforce with critical tools and training, Mayor Walsh reaffirmed his commitment to shared growth and increased opportunity for every Bostonian, as laid out in Imagine Boston 2030, Boston's citywide plan that aims to guide our growth to support our economy and expand opportunity for all residents.
"Boston will be at its best when all its residents have the support and opportunity they need to thrive," said Mayor Walsh. "We've been hard at work building an economy that works for everyone -- not just those at the top. While the work is not over, I'm proud that we've made progress in both building up our innovation economy and in reducing inequality. Establishing policies and a system that brings shared growth and success is critical for our city to reach its full potential. Our city is world-class because it works for the middle class."
Citing a survey released by the Hyams Foundation, Mayor Walsh spoke on the importance of continuing Boston's partnership with the Foundation and prioritizing equity in City initiatives and policies. The survey, released this morning, demonstrates the majority of Boston voters recognize that racism both needs to be addressed in the city and that having race dialogues will help race relations in Boston a "fair amount or a great deal." The City has been partnering with the Hyams Foundation to bring a series of race dialogues to neighborhoods, as a continuation of the work started to acknowledge systemic racism and work toward racial equity in Boston.
While Mayor Walsh emphasized Boston's commitment to tackling the realities of racism and income inequality in Boston, he also recognized the successes Boston has made in its fight against inequality. According to a new Brookings Institute report, inequality in Boston narrowed by 17 percent between 2014 and 2016. In addition, the report found average incomes at the lower end of the payscale grew by almost 19 percent since 2014.
Mayor Walsh shared significant milestones reached in other key areas that deliver opportunity to residents across all of Boston's neighborhoods, including:
Building on his commitment to increase affordable housing, Mayor Walsh announced Boston has made significant strides in stabilizing the housing market, accommodating population growth, and increasing affordability, while also reaching 98 percent of the City's production goal of creating 53,000 units of affordable housing by 2030.
Since the 2014 implementation of the City's housing plan, Housing A Changing City: Boston 2030, more than 17,000 new units of housing have been complete, with an additional 9,000 units currently under construction, and 26,000 units under review. Of the homes permitted, 19.2 percent have been set aside for low and moderate income families, and over 34 percent of Boston's rental units are restricted by income. In all, under Mayor Walsh's leadership, increased construction in Boston will supply the city's growing population with 52,000 new homes.
In addition to creating new housing units in the City of Boston, Mayor Walsh is working with 14 neighboring cities and towns to create a regional housing plan. The plan will address the housing needs of the Metro Boston area, with a focus on housing production, diversity, cost, location, design and increasing stability for the region's residents. The partnership will create a regional work plan, which will establish a regional housing production goal, along with specific strategies to achieve that goal throughout the 14-community region. Within the plan, the City of Boston will set new targets that reflect the growing population.
Workforce Development and Job Training
Announced in his 2018 inauguration, Mayor Walsh introduced the new Boston Hires campaign to strengthen and diversify the talent pipeline in Boston and provide more opportunities for all. Working in partnership with nonprofit partners and private employers, Boston Hires will work towards ensuring 20,000 low-income Boston residents are trained and placed in good-paying jobs by 2022. To accomplish this, Mayor Walsh is leading by example by committing to train and place Boston residents and Boston Public Schools graduates in good paying city jobs through a new program specific to municipal work, City Academy.
"Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) shares Mayor Walsh's commitment to assuring that Boston residents have access to good jobs that pay wages that help them support their families, offer benefits, and provide opportunities to move forward in a career," said Kevin Tabb, BIDMC's Chief Executive Officer. "We are delighted to be an Employer Champion in the Boston Hires initiative."
"We are excited to be a part of the City of Boston's BostonHires Program," said Steve Trumble, President and CEO of American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC). "At ACCC, we believe in giving back to the communities where we live and work. We also understand the financial struggles facing many Americans. By joining BostonHires, we have the opportunity to offer unemployed and underemployed residents with quality jobs that provide a living wage and valuable benefits."
During his speech, Mayor Walsh urged employers to get involved in Boston Hires and thanked Boston Medical Center, Beth Israel, American Consumer Credit Counseling, and East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, who have already made commitments to sponsor Boston residents and create opportunities for all.
Understanding that education is the greatest equalizer, Mayor Walsh continues to significantly improve access to education and close achievement gaps. This upcoming school year, 976 more children will be enrolled in high-quality pre-kindergarten, compared to five years ago.The City of Boston has made strategic investments in its budgets to expand the district's nationally recognized early education programming within its public schools, and also partnered with community-based organizations throughout the city to provide similar high-quality seats in these early childhood settings.
In working towards universal pre-Kindergarten (pre-K) for all children, Mayor Walsh has put forth a bill before the Massachusetts state legislature to fund universal pre-K using tourism taxes that are already being collected in Boston.
In the meantime, the City of Boston officially began building its citywide universal pre-K system this fall and has hired the City's first universal pre-K Director, initiated a partnership with UMass Boston to train community-based educators to implement early learning curricula based on BPS' materials, and launched a pilot to connect community-based classrooms to the BPS school choice system so that parents can choose the pre-K setting that works best for their family.
Boston's Way Home
Mayor Walsh announced in his speech that Partners Healthcare, Suffolk, and Liberty Mutual have each given $1 million to the Boston's Way Home Fund, totaling $3 million to help Mayor Walsh's work to ending chronic homelessness in the city of Boston.
Announced in his second inaugural address, the Boston's Way Home Fund has a set goal of raising $10 million over the course of four years, with funds being used to create 200 new units of supportive, sustainable, long-term housing for chronically homeless men and women.
The fund was created in place of the traditional practice, where mayors and mayors-elect raise private funds for inauguration celebration costs. Instead, to mark his second inauguration, Mayor Walsh encouraged organizations and residents to learn more about the city's work to end chronic homelessness, and consider becoming involved in Boston's Way Home.
In Mayor Walsh's January 2016 State of the City, he announced Boston had ended chronic veteran homelessness; to date, nearly 850 homeless veterans have been housed. In 2016, the City scaled up its efforts to end chronic homelessness; since January of 2016, 425 chronically homeless individuals have been housed, representing more than 3,000 years of homelessness ended.
Since its implementation, Boston's Way Home has also resulted in a complete redesign of the way Boston offers services to homeless individuals. Rather than counting on shelter as the solution to the issue, Boston has moved toward a housing-first model, where an individual's entrance into the shelter system is also their entrance to a path toward permanent, stable housing. Creating new permanent supportive housing is an important component of Boston's Way Home, the City's plan to end chronic homelessness. Permanent supportive housing combines subsidized rental housing with individualized support services so that people with complex issues can receive the assistance they need to stay housed. The services are designed to build independent living skills and to connect people with services such as community-based health care, help with mental health issues, substance use counseling, and employment services.
About Imagine Boston 2030
As Boston's first citywide plan in 50 years, Imagine Boston 2030 will guide growth to support our dynamic economy and expand opportunity for all residents. The plan prioritizes inclusionary growth and puts forth a comprehensive vision to boost quality of life, equity and resilience in every neighborhood across the city. Shaped by the input of 15,000 residents who contributed their thoughts to the plan, Imagine Boston 2030 identifies five action areas to guide Boston's growth, enhancement and preservation and is paired with a set of metrics that will evaluate progress and evaluate successes.