Letter to the Editor

November 18, 2016
By

Takes issue with column

Dear Editor:

I am a resident of Charlestown and a regular reader of the Patriot Bridge.

I’d like to respond to Sal Giarratani’s Townie Tidbits column of 10/7/16. It bothered me when I read it, and has not left my mind since. With the events of the past week post-election concerning hate speech and acts of violence against people of color here in Massachusetts and nationally, I realized I should have spoken up immediately.

The idea of “project mentality” that Mr. Giarratani advances is harmful and misguided. I respect that he was able to advance himself from living in the projects, but he also did so in 1965, at a time when rent in the city of Boston was considerably more attainable for a person making minimum wage. In October 2016, the average rent for an apartment of any size in Boston was $3000/month–a stretch even for college-educated professionals making six figure salaries. Compare that to around $500 for a two bedroom apartment in Boston’s affordable housing units and you can see that the gap a person must bridge to move out of the projects without leaving Boston is immense.

And it’s not fair to insist that the people living in the projects leave Boston, the community that is their home. Leaving social and family bonds has been shown to correlate with all manner of negative outcomes as people become untethered from their support systems. People are better able to get educated, seek meaningful employment, find safe childcare, and take care of their physical health when they do so with family and friends to help.

I don’t think Mr. Giarratani is trying to be mean or unfair, but his attitude toward people living in the projects does not reflect the realities of today. Improving the living circumstances of low income residents in Charlestown can only help us all. It will make our neighborhood safer and more appealing to live in, and it will help offer the people who live in the projects the support and resources that will help them slowly improve their circumstances (and it will be slow, because of the enormous cost of living in Boston outside of affordable housing). To think that having our low income residents living in safe, clean, and nice units will only encourage their “project mentality” is harmful to us all.

Amy Bucher