Malden housing heats up, as Boston rents rise

The MBTA Orange Line connects Malden to Boston. Housing in the Metro North city has gotten more expensive, as the region faces greater housing demand. (Image courtesy of Google
Maps.)

Malden has grown over the years. Long-term resident Helen, who declined to give her last name, has managed a booth in the Malden Center T station for about 20 years and lived in Malden for more than 30 years. She has witnessed the city’s Asian population growing to more than 20 percent and housing prices triple in the Metro North city, less than five miles from Boston.

Helen saw growth as a natural evolution. “Every place changes over time,” she said. Living in a house her family owns, she does not worry about housing.

However, other residents do not have Helen’s housing security. Malden has been challenged by a lack of affordable housing, as well as difficulty in the zoning, permitting and approval process, said Angie Liou, executive director of the Asian Community Development Corporation. The community developer added a Malden office in August 2018.

“The housing crisis is going to keep on, and if the city does not figure out how to create more affordable housing options, people who are Malden residents and their children may one day find they are priced out,” Liou said. She felt more affordable housing was needed close to T stops.

Liou said downtown Malden has seen waves of residential development within the last seven or eight years. However, none of the units are affordable.

Malden has been affected like many communities around Boston by rent increases, said Steve Finn, executive director of the Malden Housing Authority. “Everyone understands that there’s not enough affordable housing.”

As the Boston housing market heats up with rents averaging , living in Malden is relatively more affordable. Yumeng Ren, a Northeastern University student, chose to rent in Malden after looking at other neighborhoods.

“The rental price in Malden is, by comparison, reasonable in the Boston area, where I can easily get access to public transportation,” Ren said.

Finn expected more problems as the organization experiences funding shortfalls this year. It is heading to a period of funding uncertainty, as a two-year budget deal is ending. He looks forward to an agreement lasting for more than a year, allowing planners to have certainty sustaining public housing.

Even though there has been adjustment on rents, it’s not enough to meet demand, Finn said. Elderly people in Malden are forced to sell their houses because the taxes are not affordable.

Finn believes that America — not just Malden and Massachusetts — needs more affordable housing, but limited federal funding cannot meet demand from more projects.

“There is not consensus on what the future of public housing should be, but in my opinion, it’s the most efficient, affordable and sustainable asset that any government could support,” Finn said.

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About Jingfei Cui 崔靜霏

Jingfei Cui is a reporter for the Sampan Newspaper.
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