There is a housing crisis in East Boston. Long a gateway community for immigrants, East Boston is increasingly home to monied millennials seduced by scenic views of the Boston skyline, granite countertops, and gastronomical experiences. The average monthly rent in “Eastie” is approaching $3,000 a month, and once plentiful two and three-decker homes are rapidly being replaced by buildings that house dozens of luxury condominiums. The neighborhoods Latino community has been hit hard by the effects of development.
Development for Whom explores how urban development, under the guise of progress and championed by city leaders, unions, and investors has resulted in a housing crisis for a vulnerable immigrant community. Evictions are on the rise in the state. According to The New England Center for Investigative Reporting, there were “roughly 15,708 forced removals in Massachusetts — an average of nearly 43 a day.” Pedro Morales, an immigrant from Mexico and a student at the Harvard Divinity School, is a leader in Stand Up For Democracy, a church-led effort to stem gentrification. The group waged a successful fight against the construction of a casino in East Boston and is now focused on development plans they see as favoring business interests. Morales and the group are in search of a legal remedy to the crisis but are coming up short. In East Boston, as in so many other communities around the country, the issue is not that developers violate the law, the issue is the lack of regulations to protect vulnerable communities.