Our Community Partner EMPath’s Perspective on Boston’s Current Housing Crisis

The Letters Foundation’s Community Partners Program partners with nonprofits to support our mutual constituents with one-time grants related to housing, health, workforce development, and education.  This collaboration aims to honor and uphold the strengths of individuals and families, while recognizing that many systems create roadblocks for the people in our community to be able to move forward in their lives.

At Letters Foundation, we believe that stable housing for families is the foundation from which they can pursue personal goals and sustain their future. Yet as housing costs rapidly increase, families struggle to remain in their homes and neighborhoods, and the added stress from housing instability remains a critical issue.

To date, the Letters Foundation has invested over $360K in individual grants to support the needs of families in Greater Boston that result from the lack of affordable housing, and that number grows every week.

We asked our partners at Economic Mobility Pathways (EMPath) to share their perspective on how the housing crisis in Boston affects our mutual constituents.  EMPath is a Boston-based nonprofit that uses the latest science to inform others about the stress of poverty and combating barriers to economic mobility.

Judy Parks, Vice President of Mobility Mentoring Programs and Services, shares her observations on how disparate wages impact housing stability, and what EMPath is doing to support families in our community:

Greater Boston challenges families to find housing that is affordable and near transportation. The median rent in Suffolk County is around $1,400. The $12 minimum wage adds up to just $2,000 a month—making housing subsidies a necessity for many families. Meanwhile, households in the median earn $5,000 a month, to say nothing of the households at the top.

The severe wage disparity in Boston compounds the housing problem. The city is undergoing a housing transformation with the redevelopment of public housing units; the construction of new, market-rate units (with some affordable set-asides); and the development of neighborhoods considered undesirable 10 years ago.

While this transformation is necessary and overdue, there is a cost to the families of these neighborhoods. Large-scale redevelopment creates displacement, fragmentation of communities, and ultimately higher expenses—without a promise of higher income.

The search for affordable housing in the Greater Boston areas is approaching a blood sport; and low-income families are experiencing the brunt of this game and serious inequity.

Housing is the responsibility of all of us. The first step toward economic mobility often begins with awareness of stable housing options. At EMPath, we know that the journey to self-sufficiency, grounded in strong families, education, financial acumen, self-directed confidence, and systemic change takes time. Through one-on-one coaching and support from policymakers, we can guide families in achieving their housing goals.

Learn more about EMPath’s direct services here.