Friday, February 6, 2015

Why Minorities are the New Majority in Boston Real Estate

In honor of Black History Month, the focus of this article is to address how Boston's longtime homogenized neighborhoods are beginning to see a change in their racial and cultural makeup. Learn how the city is adapting and increasing in Massachusetts racial diversity.

Boston's Rise in Diversity And Your Neighborhood

With every census we learn more about homeownership statistics and will gain more findings of non-white property owners. In order to make a change it is important to know our roles in our neighborhoods and recognize these positive aspects of these changes.

Just like residents can make a difference, Boston management companies can also help non-white landlords and property owners gain better reputations and overcome prejudices that have plagued them for many generations.

Power In Numbers and Ethnic Division

Boston has a predictable "blue" vote due to the millenials who make up almost half of its workforce as well as the many students in the hundreds of academic institutions.

Historically, Massachusetts voters typically swing towards the left and can date back to the late 17th century, when it was the first state in the U.S. to abolish slavery in 1783. 

Even though Boston is the farthest north major city in their region of the country, and the North was once deemed as the haven for freedom for black slaves in America, there has been a dichotomous undercurrent that lies in the historic segregated sections of Boston since the turn of the 20th century.

Boston ethnic neighborhood ethnic divisions generally include:
  • Italians in The North End
  • Irish in South Boston and Brighton 
  • Whites in Back Bay, Kenmore, South End, and Charlestown sections all predominated by white residents.
  • Roxbury, Mattapan, Dorchester, Jamaica Plain and Hyde Park are common for blacks, Latinos, Asians, and Indians 

These areas are statistically averaged as lower per-capita income areas for at least the past fifty years. This is not to say that it is not by choice from the people themselves in these neighborhoods of Boston feeling comfortable with their own racial background.

There has been a lot of progress since the racial strife that haunted many Boston generations (i.e. the Metco busing crisis of inner-city students to Roslindale, Swampscott, Newton, and other suburban sections during the 1970s and 1980s and the discriminatory practice of redlining that was outlawed by the 1968 Fair Housing Act).

City of Boston's Change in Ethnicity 1980 vs. 2000

If you notice in the graph below there was a gradual decrease in many ways
    How race matters in Boston real estate today
  • Between the years 1980 and 2000, the majority of the city's white residents versus minorities went from 68% to 50%, respectively.
  • As the laws for immigration continue to be amended, there has been a spike in newer immigrants to Boston, a major U.S. port city, for work and living.
  • The local economy sees an increase in the costs of living across the board, causing people to move to the outskirts of the city such as Allston/Brighton, East Boston, Malden, Medford, Somerville, and Roslindale.

Bottomline: People Live Where they Can Afford It

People will live where they can afford to, no matter who looks like them across the street from their home. Diversity is on the rise in Boston and the predominance of whites is decreasing.

Money can socioeconomically stratify people, not necessarily just their color.

For this reason, a good example according to Alvaro Lima, director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority, who cited the census data between 2000 and 2010 states that the South End is becoming increasingly diverse as a hot bed for diversity (LGBT, blacks, spanish, young professional, Asian residents). 
South End residents live in close quarters between million-dollar homes and public housing complexes. Lima stated that "the biggest shifts in diversity occurred in West Roxbury, JP, and pockets of Dorchester."  
Also, new housing developments and commercial real estate in the city are seeing record numbers in sections such as Roxbury, Dorchester, Medford. Their is great potential for business profit and an increase with inter-cultural exchange.

So How Does Property Management Play Into Boston's Diversity?

Humans are naturally scared of things we do not understand and it is important as property managers that we keep an open mind towards racial diversity. Past experiences can often cloud our vision of how certain races behave, and we must realize that diversity helps our communities. Cultural groups add to the diverse fabric our country is built on in many ways:
  • Cultural groups have unique strengths and perspectives that all communities can benefit. 
  • Understanding cultures will help us overcome and prevent racial divisions.
  • Appreciation of cultural diversity goes hand-in-hand with a just and equitable society.
  • Learning about the influences that cultural groups have had on our mainstream history and culture, we are missing out on an accurate view of our society and our communities. 
Equal opportunity housing is important as we grow as a nation and city. Boston has a large turnover of students every year and it is important that we continue to bring in fresh new thinking as we accept all members of our community. 

Please tell us about how racial diversity affects your everyday life and what you are doing to make a difference in the comments below.