Malden has become home for new immigrants and families wanting public transit and a commute near Boston. The median home cost for Malden is $446,100 from Zillow data, less than Boston’s median home cost of $587,000.
Newcomers are coming to the city, as more than 40 percent of Malden residents are foreign-born, said Gabriella Snyder Stelmack, executive director of Bread of Life, a faith-based organization in Malden.
However, demand is pushing prices up. Pam Edwards, organizing director of Mass Senior Action Council (MSAC), remembered a MSAC member’s story about his daughter, whose rent was doubling in 2014.
“Her landlord was giving her a warning,” Edwards said. “She didn’t want to leave Malden because her elderly father was there, [but] she knew that she was not going to afford it on her two jobs.”
When MSAC started looking for solutions, there were few affordable housing units being built, below 10 percent required by the state. The woman was working at two Dunkin’ Donuts at minimum wage, unable to afford market-rate apartments built near the subway, Edwards said.
“All the city leaders were saying that Malden has done enough, that we have to have people with disposable income living in Malden. The other cities needed to do more,” said Edwards. She added there were councilors who “had a very biased view against low-income housing — they looked on it as a blight on the city.”
Karen Hayes, City of Malden director of human services and community outreach, said “there are some misunderstandings and misguided judgements on what [affordable housing] means and who that serves.”
Bread of Life helps people survive hardship by providing food. Stelmack believes the city should leverage its location with developers to promote more inclusive housing. “We need to work on creating more affordable housing,” she said.
MSAC has worked to educate more people about affordable housing. “Now they are creating plans — I’ m not saying that they are the greatest — but City of Malden was doing it,” Edwards said. The plans started from the MSAC member sharing about his daughter’s rental struggles.
Pleasant Street in Malden. (Image courtesy of Flickr user Dana Smith.)
Housing costs affect not only seniors and low-income people, but also young adults in their late 20s. Some can rent, but may leave them with no savings to buy a home, Edwards said.
Housing Families have helped improve the lives of more than 5,000 families in the Greater Boston area since 1986 by offering individualized supportive services to enrich children’s lives, nurture the potential of each family member and help families maintain permanent housing. It serves 2,500 individuals on an annual basis, affected by the increasing cost of housing in Massachusetts