Yes on 5 A:Better Boston Holds Fundraiser at the Hampshire House

By Beth Treffeisen

During a breakfast reception, residents from Beacon Hill and the surrounding neighborhoods gathered together to learn more about the Community Preservation Act for Boston (CPA), during a fundraiser to help promote the November 8, ballot question.

Yes on 5 A Better Boston hopes to raise funds to promote residents of the City to vote yes on the City Council’s ballot measure. CPA will generate $20 million annually in Boston to revitalize neighborhoods with new and improved parks, historic projects, and create thousands of new, affordable homes for seniors, families, and veterans.

“One of the reasons I’m promoting it is because of my children,” said Namrita Kapur, one of the hosts of the event. “And I want to live here for years to come.”

The CPA funds are generated by a one percent surcharge on local property tax bills that are matched by a statewide trust fund that it outside of the City budget. The Boston City Council voted 12 to 1 to get the question on the ballot this past May.

If passed, there would be a committee made up of five members from the Mayor Martin Walsh cabinet and four members from the community appointed by the Boston City Council. Together they would allocate where the funds are spent. Every dollar spent will be tracked online allowing for a transparent process.

A total of 16 cities of towns around Massachusetts will be voting on this act in the fall.

“We are in a middle of a crisis,” said Linda Orel the executive director of The Conservation Campaign and New England Director of Conservation Finance for Public Land. “We need more affordable housing here in Boston; people are leaving.”

There will be exemptions for low-income homeowners, low-and-moderate-income senior homeowners, and for the first $100,000 of residential and business’ property value.

A typical Boston homeowner whose home is assessed at $500,000 would pay approximately $24 per year towards this investment.

“It is opportunity for the whole city to come together to make the city better for everyone who lives here,” said Joe Kriesberg the chair for Yes on 5 A Better Boston. “We need more affordable housing.”

In Boston there are 20,000 low-income residents said Kriesberg who added that there is no place for seniors to find a place to downsize.

Kreisberg added that the parks are under funded as well. There was an amendment in 2012 to be able to improve athletic fields, parks and playgrounds.

“As we add to the population over the next couple of decades we need to have a place to play,” said Kreisberg who is a father of two that had no green space at the Boston Public School they attended.

CPA that was enacted in 2000 has been adopted by 158 cities and towns in Massachusetts so far and has created or rehabilitated 8,500 affordable housing units, 3,600 historic preservation projects and 1,250 recreation projects according to the Boston Preservation Alliance.

The initiative was first placed on the ballot in 2001 but due to some paid-for opposition the measure didn’t pass.

Mayor Martin Walsh came out with strong support of the initiative at the end of April.

“People think this is a good idea and we are going to be out there and knocking on doors too,” said City Councillor Josh Zakim. “It’s about making sure everyone sees Question 5 in a crowded ballot.”

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