Housing is a human right. We need to make Northampton more affordable by increasing the housing stock, lobbying for the ability to change our property tax structure and encouraging or requiring affordable units in new developments.
I support these initiatives:
Fourteen years ago I bought a two family house in Florence center with my partner at the time and another couple. Recently we were talking and shared that we thought this was one of the best decisions of our lives. Sharing expenses was the only way I could afford to live here, but the benefits of sharing a home went much further: we built more social connections and shared the work of home ownership.
In the past 20 years, Northampton has gone from a place where people who grew up here and held working class jobs could afford to stay, to that being increasingly difficult. In order to live here now, you either need to have bought a house when the prices were cheaper or have a lot of money. If you rent, you face uncertainty about whether you'll be able to continue to afford to live here.
Let's change the conversation about "market rate". Charging rents at a rapidly rising market rate when you don't have to financially enriches property owners but has a negative effect socially. Landlords can make a huge difference in the lives of their tenants and in the diversity of our community right now by not pricing them out of Northampton.
More ideas at my "Affordability of living in Northampton" blog post.
I support strong local businesses and workers' rights. I believe these two go together. Workers who are respected will be dedicated to the success of their workplace.
We're facing unprecedented change over the next fifty years and we need to take radical and immediate steps to minimize and mitigate the worst of those effects.
As a city, we need to commit to a transition to 100% clean energy. It's great that we've committed to being carbon neutral by 2050. How can we achieve that even sooner?
Doing these things may seem expensive, but investing in this now will save the city and future generations considerable costs later.
We must be prepared for the change that we already see happening. I support the continuing work towards climate resiliency in our infrastructure.
Much of the work that needs to be done has to happen on a bigger level. I will work with our state legislators to support climate justice and carbon pricing that doesn't harm working people.
I believe in encouraging denser development in downtown and village areas, and reducing it at the outskirts of the city. Why?
Neighborhoods need to be involved at every step of the process in changing zoning and considering new development. Trees and green space that are readily accessible is vital.
Reducing development in the outskirts of the city will preserve contiguous tracts of land for wildlife, timber, and preserve rural character.
I want to make sure that all voices are heard in city government. People who show up at city meetings, write or speak with their representatives tend to be disproportionately white, middle class and able-bodied. I will listen to these voices, and I will also do an assessment of who is not in the room, and come up with strategies to make sure everyone is heard.
Not everyone is able to come to city meetings. Many believe their voice will not be listened to if they do. I will reach out and travel to people and work to change this.
I believe in strong local public schools. We must get adequate state funding to pay fair salaries and provide the needed additional positions and resources.
The resources we have as a community are astounding. I feel very lucky to live here and am grateful every day for the people, the roads and paths, the trees and fields, the animals, the air and the water, and the buildings that are available to me. This sense of gratitude makes me want to give and share.
Sharing reduces our expenses, builds connections and teaches us how to resolve conflict well. It also saves valuable resources. I support initiatives:
I gave a talk at the Forbes Library in 2016 on sharing, busyness and creating non-traditional family.
Everyone should have the right to be safe and accepted. I will work to end discrimination and inequality in our city.
Whatever way we choose to travel, I want that way to be safe and efficient. For most of the past 70 years, transportation policy has focused on getting cars as quickly as possible to their destination, which has impacted development policy and quality of life in all other areas.
Transportation policies I support:
Wealth inequality is a worldwide problem. It's also a local one. In Northampton, it is especially apparent in housing and wages. Two families that work equally hard can have vastly different earnings. Those inequalities compound through generations, putting low-income people without family money in very difficult and precarious circumstances.
We need to have conversations about what we can do on a local level. I support lobbying for the ability to change our tax structure to lessen the costs for low-income, low-asset families.
Every choice we make about raising taxes or fees needs to not impact people who can't afford it. I support the Fair Share Amendment on a state level, and we need to consider lobbying for the ability to charge higher property taxes for second homes, very expensive single-family properties, and vacant commercial properties.
1. Eric Dumbaugh and J. L. Gattis, "Safe Streets, Livable Streets," Journal of the American Planning Association, vol 72 (2005), 285-90.
2. See "Rainfall Interception of Trees," in "Benefits of Trees in Urban Areas", coloradotrees.org. Also see Dan Burden, "Urban Street Trees: 22 Benefits, Specific Applications".
3. Rob McDonald et al., "Funding Trees for Health," Nature Conservancy (2017).