Creche uses a variety of metrics to measure the impact of the mixed-income, inter-generational co-housing communities it creates.
87% of our residents have reported that living in community has had a positive impact on their financial well being.
It is quite possible that without an organization like CRECHE, I would not have any housing at all. From basic things like never being able to afford 3 months of rent in 1 month (first, last, deposit) to having to navigate Boston housing market prices, there’s no way that I can make it work financially apart from a structure like CRECHE.
Social and Mental Wellness
87% of our residents report that living with Creche has been good for them socially and mentally.
I’m living with a great group of people. It’s a loving, supportive community for me. Not a lot of stress, drama, and hassle. We have good, decent, kind housemates. This makes things a lot easier in life.
All of our residents have reported a positive impact on their spiritual lives, with most respondents clarifying that it had been “slightly positive,” citing that this impact has come from informal relationships and support rather than through formal programming.
Living with people who share my spiritual values has been instrumental in motivating me to develop spiritually, especially when I didn’t really want to.
Household and Neighborhood Impact
Today’s Boston housing market is stunting the development of long-lasting relationships that are vital for well-being. The prevalence of short-term leases (particularly for students) and plummeting owner-occupancy rates have priced working families out of many areas, encouraged resident turnover and neighborhood instability, and accelerated gentrification.
In order to combat this trend, we seek housemates for whom living in community is their desired way of life rather than those for whom it would be a transitional period. For the purpose of our mission, the longer the length of stay, the better.
As of August 2019, after two years of operation, 78% of housemates are continuing into another year. One third of housemates are starting their third year with Creche.
Our community supports are particularly incredible. I’m not sure how I could have gotten through the past few months without my Creche family.
According to The Boston Foundation’s 2017 Greater Boston Housing Report Card, 5.5% vacancy is optimal for creating a stable housing market. It’s destructive to neighborhoods for the vacancy rate to be significantly higher than that (such as when large apartment buildings are used as tax write-offs or as AirBnBs rather than as long-term housing).
On the other end of the spectrum, a vacancy lower than 5.5% is the result of a housing shortage, which causes to rents to rise faster than inflation and makes it difficult for Bostonians to find housing. Therefore, our ideal vacancy is 5.5%.
Boston’s housing crisis has been exacerbated not only by an economic boom, with 327,000 new jobs added to the area since 2012, but also a dramatic reduction in available housing; housing production in Eastern Massachusetts is half what it was a generation ago. Together, these trends have caused the vacancy rate to plummet to
3.7% – well below the amount needed for a stable housing market.
Creche’s vacancy rate average rose from 7% in FY2018 to 17% in FY2019 primarily because the Emmanuel House launched with two empty bedrooms out six. Removing the pressure to fill empty bedrooms as soon as they become available allows us to engage new applicants with a lengthy process of mutual discernment, ensuring that we add new housemates to our communities because they are called to community life rather than because we are desperate for income.
As of September 2019, our vacancy rate is 6.7%.
Cost of Rent
Rents in Boston are increasing by 5% per year, while wages are increasing at about 1.5% per year. This, along with the prevalence of student debt, means that millennials are only half as likely to own a home as their parents were at the same age. This trend is not improving, and housing sales in Boston have dropped 12% over the last decade.
Those who live in community don’t have the opportunity to accrue home equity, and therefore the viability of this way of life requires a rent substantially below market so that housemates can invest the difference in other ways, such as in IRAs. Our goal is for our rent to be as affordable as possible while still maintaining a balanced budget.
In FY2019 our average rent was 33% below market rate. This marks a significant drop from FY2018 when we were 16% below the market. In our first year, we averaged 7.78% below market – we are moving in the right direction.