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When I first arrived in Boston I was really interested in understanding the complex and nuanced issue of urban poverty so as to better understand the people I would be attempting to help. After living in this city for almost two months, the issue that has become the most omnipotent and gripping to me is the lack of affordable housing that is currently ravaging the city. A shortage of space to house people is something that would be literally laughable in my hometown of Zachary, and I’m sure in countless other sparsely populated areas throughout the south. Where I come from, all my older family members own homes that they have been living in for 20 years or more. But in a place like Boston, with it’s amazing colleges, cutting edge medical industry, and booming economy, space is becoming increasingly limited. On one hand this could be perceived as a good thing, the ever improving conditions within Boston are bringing in more and more people who want to live here. However, the down side is that countless scores of residents who have lived in the city for generations are being priced out of their homes every day.

Not only does this detract from a great deal of neighborhood culture and community, but lack of affordable housing has also been shown to be one of the leading causes of urban homelessness. At the non-profit I work for we hold networking events designed to pool the resources within the community we serve. One of these is an event we call “marketplace.” The idea is that someone can make an offer or request something of the group as a whole, for example people someone might request a stroller to use when their grandchildren come over or someone might offer to babysit for anyone who needs a sitter, but can’t afford it. The second time I was at marketplace one of our members offered up a resource that helps people find Section 8 low income housing and nearly half the room asked to utilize this resource. I have been inundated with stories of people who grew up in apartments and houses that their families are no longer able to afford, and with the increasing push to gentrify low income areas, it doesn’t look like this issue is going anywhere.

Luckily I have been given the privilege of helping to address the problem. Through my community partner, Union Capital Boston, I have been able to help spread the word about events held in Roxbury and Jamaica Plains designed to inform residents on things like tenants’ rights, applying for Section 8 housing, and handling disputes with your landlord. All of these things are crucial to the survival and expansion of equitable and safe communities throughout the city and it has been an honor to be a part of the work Union Capital is doing. All of this work has made me keenly aware of the fact that for many low income Bostonians, the hardest part of living in Boston is simply finding somewhere to live in Boston.