9:30 a.m. | Boston Mayor Michelle Wu grabs a cup at the Hyde Park Coffee Hour. | Amatucci Playground, 140 Hyde Park Ave, Hyde Park
10 a.m. | Homes for All lobbies for rent control starting with a legislative briefing in Room 428, followed by an 11 a.m. rally. | State House steps
10 a.m. | Gov. Maura Healey swears in Ed Augustus as Secretary of Housing and Livable Communities and two new board members for the MWRA. | Governor's Ceremonial Office
10 a.m. | MBTA General Manager Phil Eng and MBTA Board Chair Thomas Glynn speak bout the future of the T.
1:15 p.m. | Boston Mayor Michelle Wu signs an ordinance advancing tworker and public protections in construction and demolition operations alongside OSHA and others. | Brazilian Worker Center, 14 Harvard Avenue #2, Allston
4:30 p.m. | Gov. Maura Healey celebrates the Boston Pride Flag Raising and Portraits of Pride Unveiling. | City Hall Plaza, 1 City Hall Square, Boston
The state’s first standalone housing secretary in more than three decades, Ed Augustus, is on the job. And advocates say focused leadership on housing needs can’t come soon enough.
High housing costs took the spotlight at the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Housing this week during two days of listening sessions. The committee has yet to hold hearings on any of the 154 bills on its docket, but Co-Chairwoman Sen. Lydia Edwards told MASSterList a schedule is coming “soon” and pledged hearings would wrap by winter.
The timeline means it’s unlikely any of those bills targeting affordability will pass until next year — including legislation enabling cities and towns to enact rent control policies. Advocates like Gabriela Cartegena of Vida Urbana say there’s been an “urgent need” for rent stabilization “for at least 10 years now.” Rent control proponents plan to rally Thursday at the State House where they’ll lobby for quicker action, starting at 10 a.m.
Eviction filings so far this year are more than double the number seen in 2022 as housing costs continue to climb. Massachusetts needs to build some 200,000 homes in the next eight years to stabilize rent and home prices, the Healey administration says. Augustus, who is known for engineering Worcester’s downtown redevelopment as city manager there, will lead the charge.
Augustus weighed in on his plan to attack the state’s housing crunch. Responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.
What are the biggest hurdles to lowering housing costs?
To address housing costs, we need to increase supply — by a lot. Developers face multiple hurdles, the number one being navigating complicated local zoning and regulations that restrict opportunity, but we also anticipate higher interest rates may make financing more challenging and builders may continue facing supply chain or labor shortages.
How effective is rent control in capping rapidly rising rents?
Our administration supports communities implementing local solutions to their housing challenges. We will review any legislation that reaches the Governor’s desk.
What makes you the right person for the job?
As Worcester’s former city manager, I’m proud that we created and preserved thousands of affordable housing units, made key investments in affordable housing and introduced policy changes to encourage more affordable housing development. But there is always still more work to be done. Far too many families — particularly low-income families and families of color — are struggling to keep up with the rising cost of housing, and it’s going to take a whole-of-government approach and every single community coming to the table to deliver results.
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