FRAMINGHAM – The median household income for Framingham is $71,630, but the average household income for seniors, age 65 or older, in the City is $59,053.
Massachusetts has one of the highest averages of residents living paycheck-to-paycheck. In Massachusetts, the average paycheck is $1,278, up 3.6 year-over-year and more than $250 above the national average, according to Labor statistics.
Middlesex County saw the second highest average in the state — wages rose to $1,522, up 3.3 percent over the previous year. In fact, Middlesex County has the 10th highest wages in America.
But that weekly paycheck doesn’t leave much left over for after paying the rent. The median rent in Massachusetts is $1,164, and many rents in Framingham are more than $1500 a month.
The average mortgage in Massachusetts is $2,048, but in Middlesex County it is close to $2,400, a month.
Source asked the write-in state representative candidates a series of questions, earlier this month. Each day this week and next week, the answers to the questions are being published to help voters make a choice.
Today’s question — Many households in the Commonwealth and the City of Framingham are living paycheck to paycheck. What needs to be done to ensure that Massachusetts and Framingham continues to be affordable for groups like seniors and working families?
About the Election
On Tuesday, September 4, the day after Labor Day, Framingham voters will select one Republican, one Democrat, and possibly one Libertarian to appear on the November ballot. Voters in Precincts (not City Districts) 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 15 will see no names on any of those three ballots however. With the death of Rep. Walsh in May there was not time for any candidate to gather signatures and appear on the ballot. Thus, every candidate that wants the 6th Middlesex state representative seat must run a write-in campaign. There are five candidates who have announced write-in campaigns – four Democrats and one Republican. The Democrats are Mary Kate Feeney, Mike Gatlin, Maria Robinson, and Mark Tilden. The Republican is Tom Blandford. The individuals who receives the most votes in any party ballot (minimum of 150 votes) will appear on the November ballot. In Framingham, as in the state, the majority of registered voters are unenrolled, which means they have no party affiliation. Unenrolled voters may choose a Democratic, Republican, or Libertarian ballot on Tuesday, Sept 4 and write in the candidate of their choice. The announced Democratic candidates are encouraging voters to pull a Democratic ballot and write their name, and the Republican candidate is encouraging unenrolled voters to pull a Republican ballot and write his name.
BLANDFORD: We need to promote more businesses to build in our city. Also keep an eye on our tax code so that it doesn’t get out of control.
We also need to make sure that every person and family is living within their means and to assure this I will also fight to make sure that there is no rise in copays for the elderly.
FEENEY: There are a number of components to keeping Massachusetts and Framingham affordable for everyone. One of the most glaring issues is the lack of affordable housing.
We need quality affordable housing for young people, working families and seniors. State law should give Framingham the tools to require developers to build affordable housing and contribute to infrastructure improvements and other quality of life measures. Homeowners should be permitted to construct in-law apartments in their homes for family members.
Thoughtfully developed housing around transportation will give younger workers and families the opportunity to live and prosper in our community.
Chapter 40B was designed to make all communities provide affordable housing by allowing developers to override aspects of local zoning and other regulations. A laudable goal, but it has fallen far short. Rather than integrating affordable housing into neighborhoods, it has pitted developers against existing neighbors and far too often resulted in the development of“affordable housing” far from the market rate units. Chapter 40B must be revised to address its shortfalls. Moreover, other state laws are needed to give Framingham and other municipalities creative tools to work with communities and developers to build truly affordable and inclusive housing.
High taxes are another barrier to affordability. As your full-time state representative, I will work on legislation that allows the flexibility in taxation that Framingham needs, as well as work with Framingham’s government, business and community leaders to improve Framingham’s economy, and increase its commercial tax base, so that we can control the increases in residential taxes. We need programs such as ones that allow home owners over a certain age to defer some of their taxes until they sell their homes.
GATLIN: The first step to ensuring the financial wellness of our workforce and of our families across the Commonwealth is to institute a living wage that addresses the needs and ensures a strong quality of life for all.
We need to become creative and diligent about affordable housing for our workforce because, at present, it is unlikely that the individuals who work in our restaurants, shops and services can afford to live in Framingham. Both the city of New Orleans and Lowell have created housing opportunities for identifiable groups such as musicians and artists respectively. We need to look at and adapt those programs further.
ROBINSON: One of my goals as state legislator is to help senior citizens navigate the process of finding potential tax reductions. The Commonwealth offers a wide range of tax abatements, deferrals, and exemptions for senior citizens (as well as veterans), but it is difficult to determine qualifications and to find information from local municipalities. We need to make this process more transparent for our seniors so that we can help them find ways to age in place; as state representative, I would help our senior citizens navigate this process and assist them in understanding what tax exemptions and benefits they qualify for at different ages and stages of life.
TILDEN: For seniors, property tax relief and fuel assistance.
For working families, waive vehicle excise tax, waive fees for student activities, property tax relief if they pay for childcare.
Editor’s Note: The candidates were given 500 words or less for a response. The responses are published below, as received, unless they went over 500 words, and then the news site cut the answer at the sentence closest to 500 words.