Mayor Walsh Responds To Bernie Sanders Over East Boston Housing Issues

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Senator Bernie Sanders' tweet about affordable housing issues in Boston caught the eye of Mayor Marty Walsh this week, right before the Democratic presidential candidate made a campaign stop in Boston.

On Thursday evening, Senator Sanders tweeted about the planned "luxury developments" in East Boston, saying he stands with the "longtime residents of East Boston fighting displacement."

(Getty Images)

Sanders' tweet linked to a Boston Business Journal article about civil rights lawyers who have filed an "administrative complaint to federal housing authorities," primarily addressing Boston's development-review process for the expansive Suffolk Downs proposal, which they said had "not been accessible to non-English speakers."

The complaint filed on behalf of two Boston-area organizations also addressed concerns about "the need for affordable housing and climate resiliency efforts at Suffolk Downs, a 163-acre site in East Boston and Revere."

The complaint said "Suffolk Downs will fundamentally change the character, cost, and composition of every neighborhood it touches and all surrounding communities. Simply put, the stakes for affected communities in Boston, who are predominantly limited-English-proficient residents of color, are enormous." Hours after that complaint was filed, the Boston Planning and Development Agency had a Spanish translation available online.

Senator Sanders tweeted that he is standing "with the longtime residents of East Boston fighting displacement from the communities they have spent generations building."

On Friday night, Mayor Marty Walsh retweeted the Senator's comment with somewhat of a push back, saying "Thanks, @SenSanders but there's much more to this story."

Mayor Walsh added that in East Boston, his administration has heard the concerns of "hundreds of residents," helping "shape a project that will create over 1,000 units of affordable housing."

Mayor Walsh also linked to a Boston Planning and Development Agency page that shows the proposal for a major retail and housing development over 109 acres of Suffolk Downs Race Track in East Boston, and 52 acres in Revere.

The BPDA site says the "multi-phased proposal include[s] the development of a new mixed-use neighborhood, a 40-acre publicly accessible open space system, and two retail squares at Suffolk Downs and Beachmont stations."

It also says there would be three new residential buildings and some of the town homes built, totaling over 800 housing units, within the first phase of development.

So far there is no indication of how much those rental homes would cost.

The retort from Mayor Walsh came hours before Senator Sanders was scheduled to appear for a Pre-Super Tuesday rally on Boston Common.

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