Boston Mayor Marty Walsh plans to invest $20.6 million in city funding to support housing efforts - a 45 percent increase from the last year.
"Housing affordability remains one of our top priorities in Boston, and I am proud that through our proposed budget we are doubling down on our efforts to create and preserve more affordable housing," Walsh said in a statement.
Here are five ways the mayor's budget, to be announced on Wednesday, will help city residents.
1. The city will seek to raise Boston’s Room Occupancy Local Excise Tax
Following the new state guidelines the city will - pending approval from the Boston City Council - raise the local excise tax by .5 percentage points to 6.5 percent, officials said.
This will capture $5 million in additional funding. The city would use $4 million to create 50 units of permanent supportive housing for residents and $1 million to create pathways for youth and young adults experiencing homelessness, according to the city.
“This is a great opportunity to maximize what the city can do,” said Justin Sterritt, budget director for the city of Boston.
2. $1 million in funding will be used to help the 300 to 400 young people without stable housing in the city
Within the next few weeks, the city will roll out a plan of more than 60 initiatives to help create”more pathways for homeless youth,” officials said.
Right now, 300 to 400 young people are without stable housing. This can mean sleeping on the street, because of lack of access to shelters, or couchsurfing, officials said. Homelessness disproprionately affects LGBTQ kids and youth of color, officials said.
The city will coordinate with the Boston public schools and other resources to identify kids with unstable housing situations before they become homeless, officials said.
3. The Boston Public Library would be given $100,000 to help with outreach among people experiencing homelessness
David Leonard, the president of the Boston Public Library, said libraries have “been a place of service and respite for people dealing with homelessness challenges for many years.”
In 2018, the library hired a dedicated social worker to monitor the area around the main Boston Public Library branch in Copley Square. This led to contact with at least 126 individuals struggling with housing on a monthly basis, Leonard said.
“Clearly there’s a need and its welcome,” he said. With the additional funds, Leonard said the library will look into bringing in more social workers and interns so they can expand to other branches, in particular those in the South End, West End, Field Corner, Upham’s Corner, Dudley Square neighborhoods.
4. An infusion of $100,000 will allow for the expansion of an intergenerational home sharing program
Piloted in the last year, an intergenerational home sharing program that allows the city's younger residents to live in spare bedrooms of elderly residents will go into full force with new funding in the fiscal 2020 budget.
The program allows the city to tap into some of the more than 70,000 spare bedrooms left unused in Boston, officials said. By using a “matching system” the city plans to hire a vendor who would pair 100 young people with 100 elderly residents looking to make some money from renting out a room. The pilot program included eight matches, officials said.
In an effort to keep rent costs low, the renter often offers to do chores - like trash or leaf removal - in exchange for a more affordable monthly cost, officials said.
5. The city will seek to increase the number of inspectors regulating short-term rentals
With an investment of more than $105,000, Boston’s Inspectional Services Department will bring in extra staff to regulate the city’s short-term rentals. These inspectors would work to make sure owners are following regulations. They would also stop properties with outstanding housing, sanitary, building, fire, or zoning-code ordinance from being listed.