Enough affordable housing in Lynn


March 13, 2016
Opinion /The Daily Item

Now is the time for city officials to resist any and all calls to create more “affordable” housing in Lynn.

That declaration sounds harsh, even alarming, but the city is balanced on the precipice of a development and growth opportunity that could translate into nothing less than one of the biggest economic steps forward for Lynn in its recent history.

Two giant residential projects are taking shape on drawing boards and one – the Beacon Chevrolet residential complex proposed to be built on vacant land across theLynnway from North Shore Community College – is rapidly moving forward. The second project on the site of the former GE gear plant is a dream-come-true for a city like Lynn: more than 1,000 residential units in a cluster of tall buildings overlooking the Boston skyline and the ocean.

Economic Development and Industrial Corporation Executive Director James M. Cowdell


Economic Development and Industrial Corporation Executive Director James M. Cowdell

Projects like those proposed have the magnitude and capability to change the city. They will bring residents to Lynn who – like downtown loft and condominium pioneers before them – will boost Lynn’s reputation as a great place to live.

What the city does not need is more opportunities for people receiving tax dollar assistance to move into local properties owned by private landlords or into buildings owned by nonprofit organizations serving as pass-throughs for housing agencies.

These residents live temporarily in the city. They enroll their kids in public schools for short periods of time before economic misfortune or other problems send them off to another community.

It’s easy to dismiss resistance against more affordable housing as a selfish, uncharitable attitude not worthy of a welcoming city like Lynn. But the call for a halt to more affordable housing must be set against the backdrop of statistics like the one city Economic Development and Industrial Corporation Executive Director James M. Cowdellunveiled at last Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

According to Cowdell, Lynn is “at 35 percent affordable housing.” He went on to say the city has done its fair share affordable housing-wise and it is hard to argue against his logic.

People need a helping hand, they need a place to live, but the best way to help them is to provide the skills and work opportunities sufficient to turn tenants living on public assistance into homeowners who invest in the city, build equity and become longtime local residents like the generations of Lynn residents before them.


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