THE BOSTON may­oral hope­fuls are busy attending forums on the issues that will face them if elected. Some have exhorted the can­di­dates to direct atten­tion to Boston’s sup­posed major prob­lems — the lack of late-​​night com­merce and access to liquor licenses, a lim­ited inno­va­tion economy, and too strin­gent parking and housing space require­ments. But many city res­i­dents dis­agree that those are the biggest prob­lems facing the city. For them, the most pressing issues are how to lift the eco­nomic well-​​being of our neigh­bor­hoods and move fam­i­lies out of poverty.

A recent analysis by North­eastern University’s Center for Labor Market Studies found that poverty in Boston has grown over the past two decades, while the incomes of the richest Bosto­nians have sky­rock­eted. From 2009 to 2011, the top 10 per­cent of Boston fam­i­lies obtained as much income before taxes as the bottom 75 per­cent of Boston fam­i­lies com­bined. Fam­i­lies at the 95th per­centile earned nearly 40 times the income of those at the 5th per­centile. In order for Boston to work, the next mayor must offer a road map out of the poverty and inequality maze.

Boston’s economy is cur­rently pros­pering. Poli­cies in place include linkage, a fee paid for down­town devel­op­ment, which is widely cred­ited with pro­viding jobs and housing for some of Boston’s poorer cit­i­zens. Although the con­struc­tion of luxury housing is on the rise, the per­centage of Boston res­i­dents working on projects sub­ject to the Boston Res­i­dents Jobs Policy has aver­aged only about 30 per­cent, when 50 per­cent is required by the ordi­nance. Shouldn’t the goal be to put even more Boston workers on these projects than cur­rently required?

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