CRECHE uses a variety of metrics to measure the impact of our communities, both on community members and on the Greater Boston Area.
Quality of Life
92% of Creche housemates said living in a Creche house has had a positive or very positive impact on their quality of life. This is tremendously important - happiness leads to stability, and stability has a positive impact on not only our households, but also their surrounding neighborhoods which are destabilized by gentrification, plummeting owner-occupancy, and community displacement.
Today, Boston’s housing market is limiting the ability of community members to develop 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, increased resident turnover and neighborhood instability, and accelerated gentrification.
In order to combat this trend, we seek housemates for whom living in a 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.
Retention is one of the ways we measure our community stability. As of September 2020, of the people for whom this was their first year living in a Creche house, 73% have chosen to continue for a second year. This is a good and healthy level - some number of people discern that communal living in the style of Creche is not for them, and some amount of turnover makes room for new housemates.
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.
“Living with good friends, navigating conflict, working toward building community in our neighborhood, eating together, praying together...all contribute to a better quality of life!”
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 of 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.
In FY19, our vacancy rate rose from 7% to 17%, largely because we launched our second intentional community, the Emmanuel House, with two empty bedrooms. We reduced that back down to 7% in FY20, which is right where we want it - this strikes a good balance between being open to new community members and making good use of the property we have.
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.
Nearly half of Boston renters are “housing burdened,” i.e. spending more than 30% of their income on rent, which contributes to housing insecurity and prevents them from saving for retirement, starting businesses, or going back to school. Since our nonprofit model of intentional community doesn’t allow our housemates to build home equity, keeping our rents affordable allows them to build wealth in other ways.
The cost of living in a Creche community continues to fall relative to the for-profit rental market. In FY20, our rents averaged 62% of market average.
Living in a CRECHE house has made me feel more secure and settled in my home and community. I’m grateful for the opportunity to live with and be committed to such a wonderful group of people.
Emmanuel House Community Garden
The Emmanuel House Community Garden has brought a new vitality and sense of community to Saint Luke's Road in Allston. Every single day people walk through, pick vegetables and herbs, sit in our open space to relax, and smile as they pass by on the sidewalk. The garden features raised beds tended by the housemates and neighbors, a dog waste bag dispenser, a "pick your own herbs" garden right along the sidewalk, and abundant invitations for neighbors to make themselves at home.
Just want to let you all know how happy this little place in Allston makes me. It’s a space I can go to meditate, enjoy a green space, and pick herbs for my meals. It really does bring me so much happiness!
–Melissa, Allston Resident
“This garden has been a godsend. I love living so close to it and using the space to read and study and relax.” –Neighbor