Believe it when you see it: City promises money it doesn’t have

I will probably be in the minority on this but I’m not at all impressed with the Mayor of Boston’s State of the City speech Tuesday night. Especially the new rental subsidy program. First of all, this is clearly politically motivated, and if you don’t think so, well – to each their own. 

But look, when Walsh swore in the most recently elected City Council members he had to have noticed, as we all did, that for the first time this Council is diverse, and moving strongly to the left. Marty’s no dummy. He has his eye on 2021, and is moving (slightly) to the left with it, as any good politician would. 

Let’s remember, there’s no guarantee that the money to make this happen will come through. There’s this thing called the transfer tax, which could generate $100 million bucks, but the state legislature has to approve it. So let’s see: asking the State House, which are the same folks who voted down the Governor’s Home Bill recently, to fork over $100 Million to help house homeless folks? Good luck with that! 

Let’s temper down the celebration just a bit. Why? Because I’ve seen this before. See the fight for the rent subsidy program has been going on for a little while. I was a part of the Boston Homeless Solidarity Committee, one of the groups that signed on for this, and more than once we thought this would be a done deal for a myriad of reasons, and we found ourselves disappointed. 

Through the rallies, the protests, the meetings – nothing. 

Some from back then may have a different version of things than I, and that’s OK. Is there a Plan B if the State says no to the transfer tax? So far there’s been no response, at least not to us. I wonder if the  city administration has even considered that this could go South. It’s not like they are good at alternative plans when it comes to homelessness. Anyone remember Long Island Shelter? 

And no, I’m never going to just let that go. 

But that’s enough. I’m not going to throw any more cold water on this. Not because of Walsh. Because of my comrades. 

I know how long and hard they fought for this and I don’t want to take anything away from that. They’re the ones you should be giving a standing ovation to, not the Mayor. Whatever I think, this is their victory not his. I really hope this turns out out OK, but as I said I have many reasons to believe it may not. 

Many need this now, but for too many people it’s a little too late; for those who had to leave Long Island shelter and never made it back to recovery, some have passed, and some are still out there. We should have had this a long time ago. To me all this pomp around this is like throwing a bone to a hungry animal, to back him away, to keep him silent in a corner. 

Well, I may be an old dog, But they can keep the bone.

James Shearer

James Shearer is a writer and co-founder of Spare Change News.

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