• About the Project
  • Indicators: what we track
    Sectors
    What is Civic Vitality?
    Civic vitality reflects a community’s connectedness and bonds of trust, or social capital, created through neighborliness, friendship, kinship, civil discourse and collaboration. These are strengthened by places to gather, open access to information, opportunities for civic and electoral engagement, effective leadership and philanthropic giving -- although these same assets can be used to exclude outsiders.

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    What is Cultural Life & the Arts?
    The Cultural Life & the Arts sector reflect a community’s cultural vibrancy –it includes all of its diverse ethnic traditions and festivals, opportunities for art and music making and enjoyment, venues for the performing and visual arts, architectural heritage, museums and public art.

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    What is the Economy?
    An economy is the sum total of an area’s production, distribution, consumption and exchange of goods and services resulting from investments of labor and financial capital in the use of that area’s natural, human and technological resources.  

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    What is Education?
    Education is the process by which skills, knowledge and values are transmitted from teacher to student while, at the same time, each student’s potential to think and act logically, creatively and critically is being developed.  

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    What is Environment & Energy?
    The environment encompasses an area’s natural resources – land, air, fresh and marine water, wildlife habitat and biodiversity, and the commercial and recreational uses they support – and their intersection with energy sources for and emissions from transportation, commerce, industry and home heating and cooling systems, along with the local effects of global climate change.

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    What is Health?
    For an individual, health is physical and mental freedom from acute illness, chronic disease and injury reflecting a good diet, adequate exercise, environmental and behavioral safety and genetic good luck. Individual health outcomes are greatly affected by socio-economic and community-level factors such as access to affordable healthy food, opportunities for exercise, recreation, supportive relationships, degree of exposure to environmental toxins and unsafe conditions, and the quality of one’s education and housing.

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    What is Housing?
    Housing meets the basic human need for shelter; for most households it is a major expense or investment that can lead to economic security or insecurity. Housing is also a fundamental building block of livable, vibrant communities and, when blighted it is a source of community destabilization.

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    What is Public Safety?
    Public safety is the peace of mind that results from the effective prevention of and/or response to events that endanger or threaten both individuals and the general public with physical, emotional or financial harm. Public safety encompasses both violent and non-violent crime, from domestic and street violence to cyber-security and white-collar crime.
    What is Technology?
    Technology is the development and use of tools, methods and skills to achieve a goal. From arrowheads and the control of fire to ploughs, wheels, engines and computer chips, new technologies change our relationship to the natural world and to the ways in which we live, work, connect and create. 

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    What is Transportation?

    Transportation is the movement of cargo -- people, animals or material goods – from one place to another. Modes of transportation in contemporary life include walking, bicycling, cars, buses, trucks, aircraft, freight and passenger trains, subways, ships and boats.

    More...

    Crosscut Topics
    Boston Neighborhoods
    Boston is a city of neighborhoods – some, like Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan, are as large as some of Massachusetts’ bigger cities, while others, such as Charlestown, are town-sized. Within each of Boston’s sixteen neighborhoods, designated by the Boston Redevelopment Authority as Boston’s official planning districts, are micro-communities, each with its’ own unique characteristics, populations, assets, and challenges.  
    Children & Youth

    Children mirror a community’s values, progress and challenges. If a community’s children are thriving, it is likely that the whole community is doing well. The Boston Indicators Project tracks progress through 2030—Boston’s 400th Anniversary - when many of today’s children and youth will be civic, political and business leaders and their children will be in school.

    Competitive Edge

    The Greater Boston region has a long history as a birthplace of revolution and innovation and is packed with firsts - the nation’s first public park and public library, breakthroughs in medicine and “green” building.  With a newly revitalized waterfront and some of the nation’s - and the world’s - top colleges and universities, the region - with Boston at its core - attracts students from around the world and top-tier talent in all fields to its dynamic  and diversified knowledge economy.

    Fiscal Health
    This cross-cut filter measures fiscal health in several ways: by tracking municipal, state and federal funding as well as levels of philanthropic giving to the nonprofit sector.  In a high-cost city such as Boston, the financial health of individuals and families is another important measure of the fiscal stability and health of the region.
    Race & Ethnicity
    Issues of race and ethnicity - in Boston and elsewhere - generally emerge on two fronts: one is the cultural richness that racial and ethnic diversity contribute to a city and region; the other is persistent disparities in education, health and economic status.  People of color have often faced inequitably high hurdles to educational and economic advancement.
    Sustainable Development

    Sustainable development refers to patterns of growth that integrate environmental and human health, economic dynamism, and social cohesion and equity.  Sustainable development is multi-dimensional by definition: biodiversity health; the availability of jobs at a living age; regional and per capita carbon dioxide emissions; the availability of fresh water and open spaces; etc.  All of these factors increase the quality of life.

    View the Entire Framework
    Complete Framework

    The Boston Indicators Project’s comprehensive Framework of indicators and measures reflects an intensive, participatory selection process that included hundreds of Bostonians and reviewed by thousands more. Beginning with positive goals for the future, these data-rich indicators and measures provide an objective way to assess current conditions, trends over time and patterns of relationships, as well as outcomes for specific groups, neighborhoods, the City of Boston and the Metro Boston region.  The Complete Project Framework can also be re-sorted into crosscutting topics and civic agenda goals.

    View the Complete Framework of Indicators

  • Reports: in-depth analysis
    City of Ideas: Reinventing Boston's Innovation Economy

    The 2012 Boston Indicators Report shows that standard top-level economic indicators don't tell us everything we need to know about the state of jobs and equity in our local and regional economy. We need to reinvent Boston's innovation economy through greater opportunity and shared prosperity.

    Read Our Past Publications Chronicling Boston from 2000-2009

    The Boston Indicators Project produces biennial reports chronicling Boston's accomplishments and the full array of challenges facing the city and region.  These reports build on expert and stakeholder convenings, data analysis, and reviews of recent research. Over the years, they have helped to catalyze an on-going set of conversations throughout the community about our region's economic competitiveness and the key challenges facing Boston.

    The Measure of Poverty: A Boston Indicators Project 2011 Special Report

    The Measure of Poverty was released in September 2011.  Findings show that the rates of poverty in Boston changed very little over the last twenty years, but is more deeply concentrated in single-parent families in particular neighborhoods. State and local budget cuts due to the recession may have long-term consequences in mitigating the effects of poverty.  The Boston Indicators Project released another special report in 2008, Boston’s Education Pipeline: A Report Card, which provided a comprehensive view of the entire arc of Boston’s system of educational opportunities and outcomes, with an update in 2011.

  • Snapshots & Briefs: quick reviews
    Neighborhoods & Planning Districts

    The City of Boston is comprised of 16 Planning Districts and 26 neighborhoods, each with a unique history and identity.  

    This portion of the site is coming soon. For facts and figures about Boston Neighborhoods see the Boston Neighborhood Topic Crosscut Page.

    City of Boston

    The City of Boston is comprised of 16 Planning Districts and 26 neighborhoods, each with a unique history and identity.  


    Metro Boston Region
    The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) region includes 101 cities and towns. Learn about the region.  

    This portion of the site is coming soon. In the meantime check out the MetroBoston DataCommon for facts and figures about the MAPC region.
    Massachusetts

    This portion of the site is coming soon. In the meantime check out the MetroBoston DataCommon for facts and figures about Massachusetts.

  • Tools & Resources: find what you need
    Learn more about a topic or do your own analysis through access to research, reports, data and analytical tools.

    Explore our digital library, which archives research reports, journal articles, newspaper clippings, blog posts, media coverage, and more about Boston, the region, nation and world.  Search all by using our sector and crosscut topics as filters.
    By aligning our resources and efforts, we can each make a difference in shaping the future.

    What are the best ways to solve the pressing challenges of our city, region, country and planet?  The Hub of Innovation profiles a set of breakthrough solutions from the region, nation and world.

    Nominate a breakthrough!

  • Shape of the City: Boston's future
    By aligning our resources and efforts, we can each make a difference in shaping the future.
    Greater Boston's Emerging Civic Agenda, created by hundreds of experts, policy makers and community stakeholders over ten years, offers as set of coherent data-driven strategies to move the region forward.  It is organized in four areas, with goals and measurable milestones.
    A Lifetime of Opportunity
    Organized into six buckets, the Opportunity Index tracks key indicators of mobility across a lifetime.  Developed to initiate and inform conversations on inequality, this tool will evolve along with conversations on economic and social disparities.
Boston Neighborhood

Boston is a city of neighborhoods – some, like Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan, are as large as some of Massachusetts’ bigger cities, while others, such as Charlestown, are town-sized. Within each of Boston’s sixteen neighborhoods, designated by the Boston Redevelopment Authority as Boston’s official planning districts, are micro-communities, each with its’ own unique characteristics, populations, assets, and challenges.  This cross-cut filter presents neighborhood-level data that makes possible comparisons across neighborhoods, as well as exploration through snap-shots and trends over time.

Indicators in this topic:
1.1.1 Racial and Ethnic Diversity, Boston + collapse
Why is this important?

Diversity augments cultural vitality, increases problem-solving capacity through new skills and perspectives, and strengthens global economic connections.  But highly diverse communities often require community-building efforts to achieve a whole greater than the sum of the parts.

How are we doing?

As of 2010, 53% of Bostonians were people of color compared to just 32% of the population in 1980.  Citywide, 22% of Bostonians were African American, 17% Latino, and 9% Asian Pacific Islander.  The neighborhoods of Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan are home to the highest concentration of African Americans in both Boston and Massachusetts while the city’s Latino population mostly resides in East Boston and parts of Jamaica Plain.  Boston’s Asian population is largely concentrated into the small neighborhood of Chinatown as well as the Fields Corner neighborhood of Dorchester.

Enlarge Total White Population Total White Pop Enlarge Black, Asian, Latino & White Populations Enlarge Total Black Population Total Black Pop Enlarge Total Latino Population Total Latino Pop Enlarge Total Asian Population Total Asian Pop
1.1.3 Opportunities for Civic Discourse, Metro Boston + collapse
Why is this important?

Formal and informal opportunities for public education, civic dialogue and debate are critical to a community's level of participatory democracy and civic engagement.  Forums that are free and open to the public provide community members with numerous ways to learn about and debate differing viewpoints and experiences.

How are we doing?

Greater Boston offers an unusually large number and broad range of opportunities for public dialogue, ranging from small and informal to the technologically advanced, which have only grown in the past few years.  These opportunities range from the formal to the informal, and include free public lectures, panel discussions, and structured settings for small-group dialogues.  Technological advances of interactive websites, email distribution lists, blogs, podcasting and Internet video streaming contribute further democratize access to information and create new forums for the sharing of ideas.

Civic Forums & Lecture Series:

Boston Speaker Series

Boston by Foot

YWCA Community Dialogues


Enlarge Civic Forums Enlarge Measure
1.2.1 Trust in Neighbors, Boston + collapse
Why is this important?

One of the most important measures of social capital is whether neighbors feel that they can rely on and trust one another.  Approximately every two years, the Boston Neighborhood Survey is conducted to explore the quality and safety of neighborhood life and social capital among neighbors.


How are we doing?

Rates of neighborly trust have increased city-wide but vary across all Boston neighborhoods and over time.  According to the most recent Boston Neighborhood Survey conducted in 2008, nearly 81% of Bostonians surveyed felt that they could rely on a neighbor for help, up from 76% in 2006 and 79% in 2003.  More than 90% of residents in the North End, South Boston and Charlestown felt trust in their neighbors—the highest rate among the City’s neighborhoods.  Though Roxbury (74%), North Dorchester (73%) and Mattapan (70%) continue to have the lowest rates of neighborly trust, rates have increase since 2006 when roughly 65% of residents reported feeling their neighbors were willing to help.

Enlarge Measure
1.6.1 People Living at the Same Address, Boston Neighborhoods + collapse
Why is this important?

Rapid movement in and out of a neighborhood affects the ability of people to get to know and trust their neighbors, and may reflect a process of either deterioration or gentrification - with lower-income people being displaced because of rising rents and home values, as wealthier people move in.  On the other hand, too little turnover can result in stagnation and the threat of disinvestment.  Finding the right balance is a challenge - particularly in neighborhoods with a high percentage of renters who have little direct control over prices.

How are we doing?

Boston continues to have a highly mobile population.  As of 2010, 73% of all householders had moved into their current residence since 2000, with 41% of householders having moved into their current homes since 2008.  Among households who moved since 2008, 88% were renters, a more highly mobile population.

Neighborhoods with the largest percentage of renters who moved in after 2000 are Fenway/Kenmore (81%), Allston/Brighton (68%) and East Boston (59%).  Neighborhoods with the largest proportion of owner households that moved in after 2000 are Charlestown (28%), West Roxbury (28%), Hyde Park (27%) and South Boston (24%).


Enlarge Percent Households the Moved in Between 2000-2004, Owners Enlarge Percent Households the Moved in After 2005, Owners Enlarge Percent Households the Moved in Between 2000-2004, Renters Enlarge Percent Households the Moved in After 2005, Renters
1.6.2 Small Business Loans by Race and Gender + collapse
Why is this important?
Half of all jobs in the Commonwealth are created by small businesses and in Boston - a city of neighborhoods - many small businesses are a source not only of economic development but also social capital.  They serve as gathering places as well as showcases for local subcultures in addition to creating jobs and a sense of community investment.  It is important that such businesses have access to economic resources, which enable them to start and expand their enterprises, and that business loans reflect Boston’s changing demographics as a measure of its civic health.
How are we doing?
Enlarge Small Business Loans
1.8.1 Library Books in Circulation BPL + collapse
Why is this important?

Neighborhood libraries foster literacy and learning, provide an open civic space and promote opportunities for formal and informal public education. The number of books in circulation at a library is a direct reflection of a community’s access to and use of new, pertinent and available information. Each neighborhood of Boston has its own staffed and networked library enjoyed by individuals and families alike. The city’s library system offers Internet access and takes full advantage of new technological advances in library science to increase access to information and literary resources. 

How are we doing?

Total circulation for the Boston Public Library continued to grow through FY2010 to more than 3.4 million, a 3.5% increase over FY2009.  Nearly 1.3 million of books circulated were from the central library and neighborhood branches with the highest circulation in FY10 were Jamaica Plain (164,310), Honan-Allston (164,077) and West End (156,548).  However, the branches with the largest year-over-year increase were Grove Hall (+116%), Mattapan (+74.3%) and Parker Hill in Roxbury (+22.7%).


Enlarge Boston Libraries and Population Under 18 Enlarge Circulation by Boston Public Library Branch
2.3.1 Distribution of Arts Organizations in Relation to Child Population + collapse
Why is this important?

The location of cultural facilities has a direct impact on the people they attract and the ways in which they are utilized.  Boston, like all great cities, enjoys a concentration of world-class, major and mid-sized cultural facilities in or near its downtown center.  The distribution of neighborhood-scale facilities in proximity to the concentration of children —with most children unable or not permitted to travel great distances — indicates the potential for cultural enrichment closer to home.

How are we doing?

Boston continues to have a higher concentration of arts and cultural facilities in the neighborhoods with fewer children.  Conversely, those areas of the city with more children and more families have fewer local options for arts appreciation and activities. 

Boston’s children are highly concentrated in the neighborhoods of Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan and East Boston.  However, according to the New England Foundation for the Arts, there are just 59 cultural organization in Roxbury, 115 in Dorchester, 39 in East Boston and 23 in Hyde Park.  By Comparison, there are nearly 300 in Back Bay and the South End and more than 230 in Fenway/Kenmore which are home to fewer of Boston's children

Enlarge Location of Arts Facilities and Children, Boston Neighborhood
2.4.1 Diversity of Arts Organizations by Neighborhood + collapse
Why is this important?

The location of cultural facilities has a direct impact on the people they attract and the ways in which they are utilized.  Boston, like all great cities, enjoys a concentration of world-class, major and mid-sized cultural facilities in or near its downtown center.

How are we doing?

While Downtown and Central Boston have the most arts and cultural destinations, neighborhoods such East Boston, Dochester, Roxbury, Mattapan, Roslindale, and West Roxbury have far fewer.  However, different types of organizations are distributed differently across the city.  The largest number of museums and visual arts organizations are located in Central Boston neighborhoods such as Beacon Hill, the North End and the West End as well as Back Bay and Fenway.  However, ethnic arts organizations and performing arts organizations are well concentrated in the neighborhoods of Boston such as Dorchester, Roxbury and Jamaica Plain.

Enlarge Arts Organizations by Type, Boston Neighborhoods Locations of Cultural Spaces in Boston
2.6.2 Children and Youth Participation in Afterschool Arts Programming + collapse
Why is this important?

While in-school arts are vital to a complete and well-rounded education, out-of-school arts offer opportunities for learning and engagement during the crucial hours following school dismissal and before parents or other care-givers are available.  According to research by the City of Boston’s Boston 2:00-to-6:00 After-School Initiative, now part of Boston After School & Beyond, quality after-school programming enhances children’s intellectual and emotional growth and peer relationship skills.   Children are less likely to make irresponsible decisions with supervised after-school support. Arts activities expand the range of offerings available, providing a highly popular and important counterbalance to training for success on standardized tests.

How are we doing?

Though data on participation does is not currently available, there are more than 100 organizations providing after school arts and cultural programming to youth of all ages according to BostoNavigator.  The greatest number of organizations are located in Dorchester, with nearly 40, followed by a combined 29 in Central Boston, Back Bay and the South End, there were 13 organizations listed in Roxbury, and less than 10 in all other neighborhoods of Boston.  BostoNavigator provides detailed programming information for all of Boston's out-of-school time programs and opportunities.

Enlarge Participation in Out of School Arts
3.2.3 Small Businesses + collapse
Why is this important?
Half of all jobs in the Commonwealth are created by small businesses and in Boston - a city of neighborhoods - many small businesses are a source not only of economic development but also social capital.  They serve as gathering places as well as showcases for local subcultures in addition to creating jobs and a sense of community investment.  It is important that such businesses have access to economic resources, which enable them to start and expand their enterprises, and that business loans reflect Boston’s changing demographics as a measure of its civic health.
How are we doing?
Enlarge Loans to Small Businesses by Race/Ethnicity, Gender, Neighborhood Enlarge Small Businesses in Boston
3.3.3 Unemployment by Race/Ethnicity and Education + collapse
Why is this important?
Unemployment rates describe a mismatch between people of working age in a community and the jobs available to them.  Unemployment in particular communities may indicate that the workforce is not prepared for the types of job offered.  It may also indicate that people, while prepared, cannot access jobs, due to a lack of networking, transportation or other, more subtle, impediments.
How are we doing?
Though Boston’s city-wide unemployment rate dropped below 6% in early 2012, deep racial/ethnic disparities persist.  As of 2010 when the city-wide rate was 8.6%, the unemployment rate for white, non-Latino Bostonians 16 years and older was 6.5% compared to 12% among Asians, 21% among Latinos and 24% among African American Bostonians 16 years and older.

Deep disparities in employment persist along lines of educational attainment in Boston as elsewhere.  Averaged between 2006-2010, the unemployment rate for Bostonians between the ages of 25 and 64 without a High School diploma was over 12%.  For those with a High School Diploma the unemployment rate was 12%, and for those with some college education 11% were unemployed.  By comparison, among Bostonains with a Bachelor's Degree or Higher the unemployment rate was about 4%.  

Furthermore, labor force participation increases with educational attainment.  Roughly 35% of those without a High School diploma were not in the labor force as well as 25% of those with a High School diploma, 19% of those with some college and 12% of those with a Bachelor's Degree or higher.  Working-age adults who are not active in the labor force are not counted in official unemployment rates.  


Enlarge Unemployment by Race/Ethnicity Enlarge Unemployment by Educational Attainment Enlarge Unemployment by Neighborhood
4.2.1 Access to High Quality Early Education + collapse
Why is this important?
For most children, school readiness begins during child care, preschool and kindergarten, where both formal and informal learning and socialization take place. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) accredits child care centers that meet quality standards for curriculum, facilities, nutrition, staffing, administration, teaching practices and relationship among teachers and parents.   

Boston Public Schools have set a goal of 100% accreditation for early education programs by 2019 and Boston’s Thrive in 5 initiative has set the goal of 100% accreditation for all public and private programs by 2023.

How are we doing?
Boston has more than 28,000 registered public and private early education facilities ranging from large group centers serving over 300 children to small family providers with just two or three available seats.  As of 2011 there were 42 providers in Boston with a capacity of over 300 children and nearly 800 providers with a capacity of fewer than 10 children.

The greatest number of providers are located in Dorchester with 222 facilities, Roslindale with 98 and Roxbury with 97.  However, the greatest number of places for children as measured by capacity are Dorchester serving up to 4,346, Roxbury with a capacity of 2,276, Roslindale with 1,481 places and Jamaica Plain with 1,451 places.

Kindergarten registrations increased to more than 2,300 in SY 2012-13, up 25% from about 1,800 the previous year.  As of the start of SY 2012-13 BPS had added 12 new kindergarten classrooms to accommodate the increase in registrations, but as many as 300 children did not have kindergarten placement.

Enlarge Boston's Early Education Facilities by Type Enlarge Number of K1 Seats in BPS versus Number of Four Year Olds Education, PreK
5.3.1 Public Health Stresses on Children + collapse
Why is this important?

Access to clean air and healthy homes are essential to nurturing healthy children with low rates of asthma and blood lead levels.  However, pollutants emitted by diesel buses and trains, automobiles, and trucks, as well as by certain businesses such as auto repair shops and hazardous waste-related enterprises, are often linked poor child health outcomes in many low-income communities and communities of color. 

How are we doing?
The percent of Boston's children with elevated blood lead levels fell to less than 1% in 2010, down dramatically from 13.5% in 1995.  However, the highest rates for children were in Allston/Brighton (1.5%), Mattapan (1.4%) and North Dorchester.

Child hospitalizations due to asthma fell slightly from 2008 to 2009--most recent year available--but with persistent racial/ethnic disparities.  Hospitalizations for all children ages two and under fell from 13.2 to 11.7 per 1,000 and for children ages three to five fell from 8.8 to 8.4 per 1,000.  However, among children two and under hospitalizations per 1,000 were much higher for African Americans (16.5) and Latinos (12.3) than among white (8.3) and Asian (4.0) children.  Similarly among three to five year olds, the rate per 1,000 was 13 among African Americans and 8.2 among Latinos compared to 5.4 among Asians and 2.7 among white children.

Enlarge Percent of Boston Teens Who Have Ever Been Diagnosed with Asthma Enlarge Percent Children with Elevated Lead Levels
5.5.2 Population & Households withing 1/2 Mile of MBTA Station + collapse
Why is this important?

Transit-oriented development—or dense, comprehensive development with a mix of housing, retail and services around transit stations—has garnered attention among planners, environmentalists, and public health advocates.  These developments allow walking and bicycling within neighborhoods for healthier and less sedentary lifestyles, and they reduce auto dependency, which translates into lower consumption of fossil fuels, less air pollution, and lower spending on transportation.  The concept of transit-oriented development is not new to Boston, a city that created streetcar suburbs in the 19th century and still continues to function best along transit lines.

How are we doing?

There are more than 1 million people and 466,000 households located within 1/2 mile of an MBTA subway or Commuter Rail station and more than 886,000 people are employed at a location withing 1/2 mile of a station.  

Enlarge Population withing 1/2 Mile of Station Enlarge Households within 1/2 Mile of Station
5.9.1 Green Space Distribution + collapse
Why is this important?

Green and open spaces provide residents and children the opportunity to experience the natural world in the heart of the city, engage in healthy outdoor recreation and exercie and contributes to the ecological integrity of an urban area.

How are we doing?

The Trust for Public Land,2009 City Park Facts reporting onthe state of park land and open space in the 77 most populous cities in the US found that Boston has 5,040 acres of public parkland and ranks 5th among high-density cities in parkland as a percent of total land area (16.3%), 2nd in acres per residents (8.3), 9th in playgrounds per 10,000 residents (3.6) and spent $101 per resident on Parks and Recreation in FY07.

The City of Boston contains 5,518 acres of open space, including 3,251 acres of parks, playgrounds, squares and outdoor malls, 240 acres of protected ‘urban wilds;’ and 62 acres of community gardens.  The Boston Parks and Recreation Department oversees 2,200 acres of parkland, including 215 parks and playgrounds, 65 squares, urban woodlands and street trees, three active cemeteries, 16 historic burying grounds, and two golf courses.  The balanced distribution of greenspace is a critical component of neighborhood quality.  Over the last 10 years, the Boston Parks and Recreation Department has implemented a $120 million rehabilitation of the city’s park system, targeting every tot lot and the majority of ball fields and courts. 

According to the City of Boston Parks Department, Central Boston and the South End have about 2 acres of green space per 1,000 people, the least in the city.  Fenway, Back Bay, and Dorchester have about twice that amount.  Jamaica Plain, Hyde Park, Roslindale, and West Roxbury have the most open space per capital.

Enlarge Open Space per Capita and Child Population by Census Tract Open Space and Access for Children
6.2.2 Access to Community Health + collapse
Why is this important?

Community Health Centers play a critical role in supporting the physical and economic well-being of a community and are often the only source of primary care for patients and residents who may be medically disenfranchised.  Research has also shown that the community-based model of care yields cost-savings in reduced emergency room visits and support for healthy behaviors.

How are we doing?

Boston is home to 25 community health centers serving neighborhoods across the city including: seven in Dorchester, three in Roxbury and Jamaica Plain, two in Allston/Brighton and others in South Boston, Roslindale, East Boston and Charlestown.

Enlarge Community Health Centers
7.2.1 Median Home Price, Boston Neighborhoods + collapse
Why is this important?

Boston has traditionally had a healthy mix of people of all incomes.  While some neighborhoods were high-priced, others offered homeownership and rental opportunities at affordable prices.  Today, many Boston residents who have lived in a community for years or even a lifetime are finding that they cannot afford to purchase a home in Boston.  Likewise, newcomers to the city - whether recently recruited professionals, graduates of local universities, or newcomer immigrant families - are experiencing sticker shock at local housing prices.

How are we doing?

In 2011, the citywide median sales price of $362,500 was a 4% increase compared to 2010 for one-, two- and three-family homes and condominiums of $349,000. This is the second year that the citywide median sales price increased since the market peak in 2005 of $390,000.

Since 2005, median sales prices have fluctuated across Boston's neighborhoods, with the steepest declines found in neighborhoods hardest-hit by the housing and foreclosure crisis, which already had a less-established homeowner base. However, since 2010, many neighborhoods have seen increases in the median home price, most notably Roxbury with a 16% increase and Mattapan with a 9% increase.  Fenway/Kenmore saw a 9% decrease, Hyde Park saw a 4% decrease, and West Roxbury saw a 6% decrease since 2010.

Despite moderating home prices, housing is less affordable in Boston and the region.  In 2010, Boston’s median household income was $49,893, with 57% of renters and 45% of homeowners spending more than 35% of their income on housing.  Those spending more than 50% increased from 20% in 2000 to 25% in 2009.  In Massachusetts, about half of renters spend more than 30% of their income on housing.

Enlarge Median Home Price by Planning District
7.2.2 Median Rent of 2 BR Unit, Boston Neighborhoods + collapse
Why is this important?
According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, residents should not pay more than 30% of their income towards housing. High housing costs can create financial distress for households.  A lack of disposable income limits our choices in terms of food, transportation, recreation, and educational enrichment.
How are we doing?

As Boston’s home prices have declined and foreclosures increased, rents have increased.  Fiscal Year HUD Fair Market Rents (FMRs) increased from FY2011 to FY2012 for all bedroom types by 1%. The median advertised asking rent increased by 25% from $1,600 in 2010 to $2,000 in 2011.  The change in median rents increased in all neighborhoods from 2010 to 2011 except for Hyde Park, which decreased by 4%.  South Boston saw the largest increase of 52% in median rent.  The South End and Central Boston also saw significant increases in median rent by 19% and 16%.  Also, Fiscal Year HUD Fair Market Rents (FMRs) increased by 1% from FY2011 to FY2012. According to the Department of Neighborhood Development, the number of listings in 2011 decreased by 67% because of less turnover and vacancy rates decreasing by half.

The minimum wage in Massachusetts is $8.00 per hour, and the 2011 median rent for a 2-BR apartment in Boston is $2100.   At minimum wage, a person would have to work 450 hours per month in order to afford a 2-BR apartment at median rent.

Enlarge Median Rent by Planning District
7.2.4 Housing Cost Burden + collapse
Why is this important?

According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, residents should not pay more than 30% of their income towards housing. High housing costs can create financial distress for households.  A lack of disposable income limits our choices in terms of food, transportation, recreation, and educational enrichment. 

How are we doing?

As of 2010, 36% of home owners and 48% of renters in Boston spent more than 30% of gross income on housing costs.  The housing cost burden is greatest for those with the lowest household incomes: 95% of owners and 74% of renters with incomes less than $20,000 spent more than one-third of income on housing.  By comparison, among Boston households earning more than $75,000 16% of owners and 8% of renters were cost-burdened by housing.

Cost burden varies by neighborhood with the greatest concentration of rental cost burdened households in the Fenway/Kenmore area and parts of Roxbury, Jamaica Plain, Dorchester and Hyde Park where more than 70% of renters were cost burdened in 2010.  Because Boston has a substantial inventory of affordable and subsidized housing, there are low rates of cost-burdened households in areas with the lowest household incomes.

Enlarge Percent of Renters Spending More Than 30% of Income on Housing Enlarge OwnerBurden
7.4.3 Housing Density & Access to Transit + collapse
Why is this important?

Transit-oriented development—or dense, comprehensive development with a mix of housing, retail and services around transit stations—has garnered attention among planners, environmentalists, and public health advocates.  These developments allow walking and bicycling within neighborhoods for healthier and less sedentary lifestyles, and they reduce auto dependency, which translates into lower consumption of fossil fuels, less air pollution, and lower spending on transportation.  The concept of transit-oriented development is not new to Boston, a city that created streetcar suburbs in the 19th century and still continues to function best along transit lines.

How are we doing?

There are more than 1 million people and 466,000 households located within 1/2 mile of an MBTA subway or Commuter Rail station and more than 886,000 people are employed at a location withing 1/2 mile of a station.  

Enlarge Population withing 1/2 Mile of Station Enlarge Households within 1/2 Mile of Station
7.5.1 Change in Number of Households + collapse
Why is this important?
Rapid movement in and out of a neighborhood affects the ability of people to get to know and trust their neighbors, and may reflect a process of either deterioration or gentrification - with lower-income people being displaced because of rising rents and home values, as wealthier people move in.  On the other hand, too little turnover can result in stagnation and the threat of disinvestment.  Finding the right balance is a challenge - particularly in neighborhoods with a high percentage of renters who have little direct control over prices.
How are we doing?

Boston continues to have a highly mobile population.  As of 2010, 73% of all householders had moved into their current residence since 2000, with 41% of householders having moved into their current homes since 2008.  Among households who moved since 2008, 88% were renters, a more highly mobile population.

Neighborhoods with the largest percentage of renters who moved in after 2000 are Fenway/Kenmore (81%), Allston/Brighton (68%) and East Boston (59%).  Neighborhoods with the largest proportion of owner households that moved in after 2000 are Charlestown (28%), West Roxbury (28%), Hyde Park (27%) and South Boston (24%).

Enlarge Percent Households the Moved in Between 2000-2004, Owners Enlarge Percent Households the Moved in After 2005, Owners Enlarge Percent Households the Moved in Between 2000-2004, Renters Enlarge Percent Households the Moved in After 2005, Renters
7.8.2 Abandoned Properties by Boston Neighborhoods + collapse
Why is this important?

An abandoned building represents the loss of a residential or commercial resource.  In addition, abandoned buildings represent blight on a neighborhood, a threat to health and safety, and a loss of potential property tax revenue.  If abandoned buildings are not sold or renovated immediately, time takes a further toll on the structures, making re-use of the property an increasingly expensive and difficult venture.

How are we doing?

In 2010, 246 buildings were categorized as abandoned or distressed by the City of Boston Department of Neighborhood Development.  This represents a decrease over 2008 which found 318 of such buildings, but strikingly lower than in 1997 when more than 1,000 buildings were categorized as such.  Of these buildings in 2010, 127 (51.6%) were residential, whereas 119 (48.3%) were commercial and/or mixed-use.

Enlarge Abandoned Properties, Boston Enlarge Distressed Buildings by Planning District
7.8.3 Foreclosure Petitions + collapse
Why is this important?
Mortgage foreclosed buildings can have a destabilizing effect on the real estate market, slowing housing sales and leading to vacancies, economic disinvestment, and physical deterioration.  All of these factors adversely impact a neighborhood’s quality of life.  Foreclosure is also an indicator of financial instability in families, households, and investors once able to meet their monthly mortgage payments
How are we doing?

The City of Boston recorded 525 foreclosure deeds in 2011 down from the most recent peak of 1,215 in 2008 but still well above the years 2000 through 2005 when fewer than 100 foreclosure deeds were recorded annually.

Despite the overall decline foreclosures remain highly concentrated in Dorchester, with 149 in 2011, and Roxbury, with 79.  By comparison, there were fewer than 10 foreclosure deeds in Central Boston, Charlestown, Back Bay/Beacon Hill, the South End and Fenway.

Enlarge Foreclosure Deeds Enlarge Foreclosure Deeds by Planning District
9.3.2 Boston Public Library Computer & Internet Usage + collapse
Why is this important?

The Boston Public Library system, with 25 branches in addition to the central library in Copley Square, is a primary point of free access to computers and the internet across all of Boston's neighborhoods.

How are we doing?

Use of the Boston Public Library as a source of wireless internet and computer access continued to increase in FY11.  More than 230,000 wifi session were logged--more than double the rate in FY08--and public computers were used nearly 750,000 times, up 38% from FY07.

Access to BPL computers is evenly distributed across the 25 neighborhood branches, all of which have at least 20 computers.  Branches with the greatest number of public computers are Mattapan with 47, Grove Hall with 45 and Dudley with 45.

Enlarge BPL useage
10.3.2 Children Who Can Walk to School + collapse
Why is this important?

Some of the benefits of walking to school are increased physical activity for children, reduced transportation costs for the district and a sense of connection and community between the school and the neighborhood. Boston Public Schools reserves 50% of each school's seats for children within the walk zone which extends 1 mile for elementary schools, 1.5 miles for middle schools and 2 miles for high schools

How are we doing?

As of school year 2011-12, 24,907 or 44% of students enrolled in a Boston Public School lived within the designated walk zone.  Schools in East Boston had the highest concentration of students who walked to school: O'Donnell Elementary (91.5%), McKay K-8 (90%) and Otis Elementary (89.5%).  Schools with the lowest concentration of children in the walk zone were citywide high schools and 16 schools enrolled no students who lived within the walk zone including the three exam schools, the Hernandez K-8, the Timilty Middle School and a number of specialized schools.

Enlarge Number of Children within a School Walk Zone
Featured Data Visualizations:
SPOTLIGHT: Boston Neighborhoods
Participatory Chinatown

Participatory Chinatown is a 3D immersive game designed to be part of the master planning process for Boston's Chinatown. It is at the marriage of civic engagement and technology.

Innovation
Asian CDC, MAPC, more
Crosscut Topic
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