State Rep. Jay Livingstone stopped by the Peterborough Senior Center in the Fenway on Tuesday afternoon to discuss some of the things going on within the city and state, and to have a conversation with the seniors about things that are affecting them.
Livingstone and the group covered several topics ranging from transportation and parking to rent control and affordable housing. Recent news about the MBTA has made the organization one of particular interest to the city right now, and Livingstone said that the MA House and Senate have announced that they are going to conduct an investigation of the MBTA. Livingstone also talked about the new Orange Line cars that have been delayed in coming into service several times now. He said that within three years, there will be an entirely new fleet of Orange and Red Line trains.
The MBTA is trying to make the trains “much better” and “much more accessible,” Livingstone said. Thanks to the new trains, the Orange Line will run more frequent service as well. He said at rush hours, the Orange Line runs about 98 trains, but will run upwards of 108 trains after the new ones are put into service.
The Green Line Extension also calls for new trains, he said, though the Green Line will not have an entire new fleet. Once the Green Line is extended into Somerville and Medford, new trains will be required to keep up with the increase in service, he said. “The MBTA is probably one of the organizations I complain to the most,” Livingstone said in response to concerns raised by some of the seniors.
Livingstone reminded everyone that people in downtown Boston think a lot more about the MBTA than people living in places like Hyde Park, where the subway is not a way of life for residents.
Livingstone also talked about state benefits, such as the SNAP benefit program. He said they are studying all state programs and whether it makes sense to have one application for housing, food stamps, childcare, etc. but this could be difficult as SNAP benefits are entitlements, while things like housing are not as they have a waitlist associated with them. “The goal is to make it as easy as possible for people,” Livingstone said.
Two rent control bills have been filed this term, Livingstone said, which he said is “probably” the first time this has happened since the ballot question 25 years ago. The bills say that local municipalities across the Commonwealth can enact rent control should they choose to do so, but it “doesn’t really set guidelines on how it should be done,” Livingstone said.
Livingstone said he would add three caveats to these bills: rent control should not be applicable to buildings built after a certain date, set a cap of an increase of a certain percentage, and the bill has to be reauthorized after a certain number of years. However, several of the people at the senior center disagreed with Livignstone on the last point, saying that the window for reauthorization shouldn’t be so short.
Overall, the group enjoyed having the Representative come to the senior center so they could voice their opinions and get some answers on topics that matter to them.