Boston Globe columnists Thomas Farragher writes My Spotlight Team colleagues and I spent months investigating overcrowded and dangerous conditions that plague Boston’s student neighborhoods. What we found — as detailed in a series of stories published in May — was a poisonous stew of greed, mismanagement, and neglect, unchecked by city officials, that threatens the health and safety of students in America’s college capital.
We found doors that would not lock, windows that would not close, units without heat, bedrooms shoehorned into rat-infested basements, and fire-trap attics. And we found that the city was doing next to nothing to enforce its zoning law that prohibits more than four full-time undergraduates from living together.
Greedy landlords, who know the city’s well-documented inspectional impotency, cram in as many kids as they can to pay for a real estate investment that has been their golden goose. The kids, looking for the cheapest rent possible in a pricey market, are often willing accomplices.
I bring this up because as of today, all of that is supposed to change.
Today is the deadline for the city’s colleges and universities to report the addresses of their off-campus undergraduate students to Boston’s city clerk. Officials will build a database that will allow inspectors to detect overcrowded units.
So imagine my excitement on Friday morning when I got a chance to chat with the city’s new chief inspector. He is William “Buddy” Christopher, the commissioner of Boston’s Inspectional Services Department.
Armed with this new data, certainly the city is about to crack down, flood the neighborhoods with inspectors, and punish landlords who continue to break the four-housemate rule.
Instead this is what Commissioner Christopher said: “That is not a top priority for me.”
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