Today, triple deckers and other types of housing at this scale are no longer known for their affordability or other opportunities they once were able to provide to residents. In fact, at the very start of 2020, the median three-family price region-wide was $929,900 (Greater Boston Association of Realtors and the Warren Group).
Nevertheless, these are the buildings that make up the streets in our cities, the first homes we see when leaving Logan airport, the ones that make up our neighborhoods, and the ones where many continue to create even more memories today. They are homes to an even greater variety of people, from students to families that have resided in the city over generations.
Joe: I'm Joe. We've lived in our triple decker for about 30 years and have raised two kids there, who are now in their mid, late 20s. I grew up in the suburbs, so coming to the city was a different experience, it's one that we wanted to have and having raised our kids here, I think they too realize the city is the place to be. It's really a dynamic place here. I really enjoyed that. I think our house, as it is, has been fairly steady in terms of who lives there. We've been fortunate that, I'm thinking through our local church here, I think we've had people living in the house for about 20 years maybe, that we come to know through the church. So that's been a nice connection for us.
“TEXT PULL OUT” - TDT Conversation
Today's residents of three deckers are more economically, racially, and socially diverse than ever before. The city’s focus on revitizaling three deckers in the 70’s and 80’s, immigration waves from central American and the Caribbean in the 80s and 90s, profiteering developers converting three deckers into student housing and “luxury” condominiums, as well as families that have held onto their three deckers throughout the years reflect the intricate diversities of a changing city.
Despite the ban, three deckers make up about a quarter of the city’s housing stock today. In the 70s and 80s as the city struggled to recover from the population exodus of white flight and federal disinvestment -- a focus on restoring and repairing three deckers was initiated by the city. This evolved from the single owners/landlords to the “condominium” situation we are more familiar with today, where each floor is owned separately. What was once built to be the most affordable option, are now among the most expensive and desired housing in the city.
At the start of this year, we began to hold community conversations with residents to hear about their experiences with three deckers, and visions of the future decker. We held our first meeting in February at the Egleston Square Branch of the Boston Public Library, and soon after with the declaration of the COVID-19 State of Emergency, we pivoted to hold these conversations virtually. We heard from residents about the ways in which they now experienced being at home and what they noticed being in their triple deckers, including familiarizing themselves with their balconies.