CommonWealth Magazine

Rose Hansen

Many publications have written a version of the same story. The Cape Cod Times reports that home sales on the Cape keep breaking records, making it the “best time ever to sell.” An April headline in the Boston Globe wrote “Houses in Greater Boston cost more than ever last month,” […]

Many publications have written a version of the same story.

The Cape Cod Times reports that home sales on the Cape keep breaking records, making it the “best time ever to sell.” An April headline in the Boston Globe wrote “Houses in Greater Boston cost more than ever last month,” with the median single family home priced at $725,000.

The Telegram & Gazette reported in February that single family home prices in Worcester County jumped 18.9 percent in January. The State House News Service reported in January that Massachusetts home sales hit a 16-year-high, before reporting the next month that sales hit a 17-year-high.

The Springfield Republican reported that in Western Massachusetts, multiple bids are driving homebuyers to waive inspections and offer more than their mortgage lender will appraise the house for.

With the pandemic and the advent of remote work, many people are leaving the cities and seeking more space in the suburbs, or snapping up vacation homes.

So it was hardly a surprise when the real estate data firm The Warren Group said this week that the median price of a single family home in Massachusetts surpassed $500,000 for the first time.

What are the implications of the red-hot housing market? Some are obvious: It’s a good time to sell and a bad time to buy. Others are less obvious. The Telegram & Gazette reports some homeowners are being hit with surprise property tax increases as their home’s assessment goes up.

Boston Globe reporter Tim Logan, in a story Thursday, wrote that there are several potential downsides to the hot housing market to the Boston region. Businesses considering adding jobs in Boston must consider the high cost of housing when setting wages. So companies may be more inclined to hire in cities with a cheaper cost of living. Individual homebuyers – often talented individuals in their 30s seeking to put down roots – may be pushed out of Boston to a neighboring state or another part of the country. The market feeds into inequality since, as Logan notes, white families are more likely to own homes than Black and Latino families, so white households generate more of the wealth from a booming market.

Even before the pandemic, Gov. Charlie Baker was highlighting the high cost of housing in advocating for his zoning reform bill, a version of which he signed into law in January after years of negotiations. Earlier this month, Baker made clear that building housing supply will continue to be a priority once the pandemic ends.

WGBH reported that Baker expressed extreme frustration at the lack of new housing supply in Massachusetts, which contributes to higher prices. “We don’t have enough affordable housing,” he said. “We don’t have workforce housing. We don’t have senior housing. We don’t have enough housing of any kind.”

“It’s an equity problem. It’s an economic-development problem. It’s a community-development problem,” Baker said of the lack of housing supply. “It makes huge differences with respect to where people can actually afford to live here in the Commonwealth, whether or not they can stay, and where they make decisions about where to start a family.”

SHIRA SCHOENBERG

FROM COMMONWEALTH

How New Bedford boosted its graduation rate: In a hopeful sign, the New Bedford school system saw its graduation rate rise 30 points over the last 10 years by paying attention to individual students, focusing on English language learners, and staying the course. Even so, the school system is not out of the woods. New Bedford High remains in the lowest performing 5 percent of all high schools in the state. On the 2019 MCAS, just 34 percent of students in grades 3-8 were deemed to be meeting or exceeding expectations in English, and only 32 percent were at that level in math. Absenteeism is also a problem, and while more students are graduating, relatively few of them are going on to college. Read more.

ICE parts ways with Hodgson: The Biden administration terminated an Immigration and Customs Enforcement contract with Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson, a big supporter of Donald Trump. Hodgson called the move a political hit job, but Attorney General Maura Healey and immigration advocates said it was long overdue because of his poor treatment of detainees. Perhaps the bigger immigration story is that the Bristol facility was down to only seven detainees and its closure will mean Massachusetts has only one ICE facility — in Plymouth. Read more.

White’s long shot: Boston Police Commissioner Dennis White went to court to block his firing, but the judge indicates she is reluctant to take any preemptory action. “What I am troubled by is your suggestion that I should sit in judgement, along with all of my colleagues, in every termination decision made by every public official across the Commonwealth,” said Judge Heidi Brieger. “Our business would grind to a halt.”  Read more.

Fare free in Worcester: The advisory board of the Worcester Regional Transit Authority votes to extend its fare free bus experiment at least another six months. Read more.

 

FROM AROUND THE WEB

 

BEACON HILL

Lawmakers consider a bill that would impose a statewide sex ed curriculum. A hearing drew strong support from those who said it would provide age-appropriate, medically accurate information, and heated opposition from groups that oppose a statewide mandate and question the curriculum’s appropriateness. (The Salem News)

The Legislature sends Gov. Charlie Baker a $600 million bond bill to build a new Holyoke Soldiers’ Home and make other improvements to veterans’ services statewide. (MassLive)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS  

The Boston Globe’s Christopher Muther is relieved that Boston does not crack the top 10 in a new list issued by Rent.com of the “Best Cities for Hipsters,” but landing at No. 15 doesn’t seem like it should provide much comfort for the Hipster-hating among us. 

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

In a supplemental budget bill, Gov. Charlie Baker proposes joining an interstate compact that would let physicians who are licensed in another state get licenses more quickly to practice medicine in Massachusetts. (Eagle-Tribune)

Cain Hayes, CEO of a Pittsburgh managed care company, has been named the new CEO of the recently merged Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Tufts Health Plan. (Boston Globe)  

A New York-based public interest law firm has filed a lawsuit in federal court in Boston against the Salvation Army over its policy of banning from its addiction services programs individuals who are taking the medication buprenorphine, which suppresses the craving for opiates among those battling addiction. (Boston Globe)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Rep. Seth Moulton says Marty Walsh should resign as labor secretary if he knew of past domestic violence allegations against Boston Police Commissioner Dennis White when he appointed him earlier this year. (Boston Globe

ELECTIONS

In the town of Hatfield, two write-in candidates for school committee end up tied with 140 votes apiece. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

An international microchip shortage means car dealerships have fewer cars to sell. (The Herald News)

Massachusetts is reinstating its work-search requirement for unemployment benefit recipients next month. (WBUR)

EDUCATION

Some families think students should repeat a grade after a “lost year” amid the pandemic, but schools are resisting that call. (Boston Globe)

Brockton High School may have reopened to full in-person classes, but about half of its students have elected to continue classes remotely. (The Enterprise

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Activists urge marijuana home growers to get their marijuana tested at legal labs to avoid exposure to mold, lead paint, or other harmful substances. (MassLive)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Massachusetts correction officials arrest two prisoners out on medical parole and return them to prison because their health improved, according to their lawyers. (WBUR)

Gov. Charlie Baker says he would support an independent investigation into the death of Mikayla Miller, the 16-year-old Hopkinton girl whose death has been ruled to have occured by suicide by the state medical examiner. (MetroWest Daily News

A Westfield man accused of murdering his girlfriend is slapped with additional charges for attempting to arrange the murder of his prosecutor and a key witness against him. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)

MEDIA

Meet the Author

A journalist is let go from the Associated Press because of conservative outrage over her pro-Palestinian social media posts from when she was in college. (SFGATE)

The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple digs into the controversy over CNN host Chris Cuomo taking part in private strategy sessions with his brother, Andrew, the governor of New York, who has been embroiled in multiple crises, including accusations of sexual harassment.  

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