October 19 Video Readout: 78% Do Not Support

We recorded video of the October 19 BPDA Zoom Meeting and posted it online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_pZNnZ5AGc
A transcript of the chat is available online here.

We analyzed the video counting supporters and opponents. Of those who expressed an opinion, less than 22% supported the project and over 78% raised issues or opposed. The majority of opponents used the chat. The below figure shows the breakdown:

We arrived at these numbers by counting individual people who spoke and used the chat. We counted the people, not the comments. Some people did both – speak and send chat messages. We counted those cases only once in the “Spoke” category. Thus adding 19.2% who opposed or raised serious questions via voice, plus 58.9% who did that in the chat yields over 78% who did not show support. We welcome anyone to watch the video via the link above and check our math.

This data also highlights the importance of having a better meeting format! A few supporters received a disproportionate amount of speaking time and screen real estate. We again advocate for real, in-person meetings on the project. Furthermore, the BPDA recorded their own copy of the video and posted it on their site. Their video does not show the chat at all! We find this is grossly misleading and fails to represent the majority of people who came to the meeting and expressed their opinions. We call on the BPDA to fix this as soon as possible.

We thank the NVA and other community members for putting pressure on the BPDA to enable the chat feature to begin with! Had this feature been turned off, the above data would look very different! 

Our Essays and Articles

The following long-form articles were written by Charlestown Voice contributors and members of the community. To submit material for publication, please send it to cv_contact@googlegroups.com. The letters below represent the opinions of their respective authors and may not reflect the position of Charlestown Voice as a whole.

April Community Survey Results

In one week between March 31 and April 6 2023 we collected short survey responses at this location. We encouraged readers to complete the survey and share with their neighbors. There was no incentive to participate. We received 65 responses. Below we summarize the answers to the first two questions.

General Attitude Towards the Project

Of the 65 responses, the answers were allocated as follows:

  • Strongly Support:        1 (1.6%)
  • Support:                      2 (3.1%)
  • Neutral:                       1 (1.6%)
  • Oppose:                      8 (12.5%)
  • Strongly Oppose:      51 (81.3%)
Below is a pie chart of the results. Note the categories are not positioned in the same order as above

Comments from those who Support

The few supporters left comments.  One supporter claimed to work in housing for the homeless and suggested we must solve Boston’s “affordable housing crisis,” and that “Housing First is the best way to keep people housed”. Also of note: “I am sure that I have neighbors right now who are actively using substances, and I do not think that they should be evicted from their homes.” We feel compelled to add context. These arguments are lumping very different things into broad categories. Affordable Housing is very different from Permanent Supportive Housing. “Housed” is not the same as “healthy.” Finally and obviously, different psychoactive “substances” have different effects and potential to cause harm. We would be shocked to find our neighbors using methamphetamine or intravenous heroin.

One supporter suggested that City or State officials support the project. “I realize politicians wanted Article 80 to occur, but my understanding is that they support the idea.”  We are not aware of any politicians who voiced such support. If they exist, we would like to know who they are.

Comments from those who Oppose

As most respondents were in opposition, we received a lot of comments for this section. Some were long, well-written essays. Reasons to oppose the project varied significantly. They were roughly along the following categories.

Fear for Personal, Family and Community Safety

  • “I am comfortable having my children run around Charlestown and, with this, I would not be. It would deprive them of their childhood.”
  • “I have a right to my personal security.”
  • “I am a single female and feel safe walking the Harbor Walk in the evening. I will NOT feel safe if BPDA pushes this through”
  •  “A number of active drug users will now be living in a predominantly residential area.  This will most likely attract dealers into the neighborhood.  It is a simple fact of supply and demand”

Concern for the Wellness of Future Residents

  • “There is simply no infrastructure to responsibly support this population and it is negligent to proceed without a concrete plan”
  • “There is no work within walking distance, and there is a liquor store within a block.  You are not setting these people up for success”
  • “Based on the information provided here and other sources that I’ve read, I can’t support PSH. I do support affordable housing.”
  • “The lack of affordable, work-force, family housing in favor of an almost exclusive concentration of studio apartments, creates a de facto single room occupancy flop house.”
  • In general ‘Housing first’ doesn’t work unless there is robust support and supervision; the proposal would need 10x the support and round-the-clock supervision to provide what is needed.”

A Sense of Injustice to the Residents and the Community

  • “There are no requirements for sobriety at the Helm. Individuals will be given housing in exchange for…nothing. There is no requirement that someone who is being given a roof over their head enter treatment or some form of rehab. I think this is wrong.”
  • “Severe reduction in the services and space offered by the YMCA without any benefit or compensation to the community.”
  • “This must stay a commercial hotel or regular residential and sports community site as it was for 40 years.”
  • “There are development projects in the books or in the planning stages that will more than double the population of Charlestown in the next 10 years, all with affordable housing components. We can’t handle that amount of population growth and we already have more than our fair share of affordable housing at this point.  The rest of the City needs to do their part.”
  • Charlestown already has more low-income/assisted housing than other Boston neighborhoods; dumping homeless here is unfair to the community and the homeless. If the City wanted to put families or refugees into the building, the neighborhood would likely support that as they have supported similar housing.”
  • “St. Francis and POUA have not shared what benefits the Navy Yard community will have from the addition of this project – new bus routes?  A grocery store or pharmacy?  Additional out of school time activities for families and children?”

A Lack of Trust in the Proponents

  •  “Added insult is the way the YMCA has conducted its business without transparency, inclusion of community and an open process. The YMCA advisory board must represent the community and the opposition.  It is their duty.”
  • “I have listened in on three separate Zoom calls and the SFH has yet to address the issue of risks to the neighborhood.  I felt that questions around this issue were given short shrift.  Myself and others thought that the proponents were quite dismissive of questions regarding the issue of personal safety.”
  • “Because of the strategy of holding several small Zoom calls, misinformation and disinformation is spreading.  The content of the calls depended on the questions being asked and many did not delve into the fact that there is no requirement for sobriety.  I have heard from many who argue erroneously that this proposal is a sober house.”
  • “They need to be more transparent.”
  • “The whole process seems to have been mis-managed and not based on efficacy.”
  • “This proposal was secretly foisted upon the community and presented as a done deal.  As a result, there is a distinct lack of trust in the community from the outset.  It has not been diminished at all by the misguided strategy of small, selective Zoom calls that were not opened up to the community until people started to complain.”
  • “When asked about the process of evicting a resident who may present a problem, the property manager answered 6 – 9 months.  Two real estate attorneys were on the same call as I was and they pushed back on this stating that, in fact, it takes the better part of two years to evict someone.”  

Concerns for the Local Economy

  • “The proposed Helm on Third is a stone’s throw away from the entrance to the National Park that is home to the USS Constitution. The National Park is planning to spend millions of dollars in a new visitor center and other enhancements to the area.”
  • “Charlestown is a world wide tourist attraction. This project will destroy the appeal.”
  • “Don’t forget that this will affect the local tourist attractions, restaurants, hotels, retailers and healthcare facilities.”
  • “A better use would be a hotel that would support tourism or perhaps a youth hostel to provide a low cost option for visiting students.”

What did we miss?

We considered publishing in full some of the long-form essays we received. We decided not to do so out of copyright and ethics concerns.. If, as a concerned resident, you’d like to publish something on these pages, please email cv_contact@googlegroups.com and we will consider it. Feel free to reach out with feedback as well.

Previously, our Home Page had the statement “Many of us believe the proposal has merits.” After seeing these results, we no longer believe it accurately represents the attitude of the community. It has been reworded appropriately.

This is obviously not a scientific poll. We have limited resources and our goal was to gather some preliminary data quickly over a one-week period.

Update: April 11 2023

Our publishing the survey results seems to have inspired more members of the community to fill out the survey. We considered whether we should publish an update, since viewing previous results may affect future votes. Since people took time responding, we feel we owe it to them to somehow reflect their effort. Of interest – the distribution of responses is actually nearly the same as last week. Now up to 95 total responses, we have the following results:

  • Strongly Support:       2 (2.1%)
  • Support:                     3 (3.2%)
  • Neutral:                      2 (2.1%)
  • Oppose:                   12 (12.6%)
  • Strongly Oppose:     76 (80.0%)
The updated pie chart is below. NOTE: this time, we changed the graphic format to show the number of responses, not the percentage, in each slice. The percentages are still visible on the side in gray. 

Page last updated on October 26, 2023