Affordable Housing in Weston? Is that an oxymoron?

We have met the enemy and they are us!

~ Pogo

Last night I attended the Weston Housing Roundtable and Discussion at the Library. There were several members of First Parish Church in attendance, including Nancy Piedra who helped organize and host the event, and Tom Palmer who is one of three Select Board Members for the Town. The various presentations by local leaders all confirmed what many of us already know: there is an affordable housing crisis here in the Greater Boston area with a growing number of people finding themselves unable to afford decent or even acceptable housing. In a place like Weston it can be easy to assume that this is a problem elsewhere. However this is increasingly not the case since the lack of affordable housing affects family members, staff members and older members of the community right here in town.

What was also clear is that some of the solutions to this regional problem involve rethinking the way that some local property owners and voters think. There are new rules from the State requiring towns that host stops along the MBTA (like Weston) to have designated zoning for multi-family housing. As a result, Weston may find itself having to consider how some of our neighborhoods (near T stops) are developed. Time will tell.

Listening to the many presentations, I couldn’t help but think of the famous line above by Pogo, (but inspired by a letter by Commandant Oliver Perry). It would appear that the biggest barrier to addressing some of Weston’s challenges has to do with common assumptions as residents of a suburban town. I encourage all of us to familiarize ourselves with the issues and be a part of the dialogue in the months and years ahead.

One thing I am looking forward to is the new affordable housing project that is being developed by Habitat for Humanity, just down the street from the church. I plan to volunteer my support and physical labor for the six units that will be built at Zero Wellesley Street. I hope some of you will join me.

In the meantime, I encourage you to check out the Affordable Housing page at the Town’s website and consider signing up for the newly formed Weston Housing Coalition. Here’s to being a part of the solution and not the problem.