Why some leave Randolph: Part 3 Property Value Fears

Property Value Fears

Interviewees cited fears over declining property values as another reason for leaving Randolph.  In fact, median home sale prices increased every year from 1997 until a peak in 2005 and a subsequent decline.  This trend mirrors the Boston metro area housing market as a whole.  The decline in Randolph takes on a special social significance however.

Many of the families in Randolph moved there from Mattapan, Dorchester, and other neighborhoods during the era of white flight.  Redlining and block busting in those neighborhoods coupled an influx of residents of color with rapidly declining property values and a concurrent increase in crime.  The Randolph residents who experienced that or who have heard about it time and again from their parents can look at Randolph’s property value decline, demographic change, and a spike in crime and interpret these phenomena as a recurrence of the earlier experience.  They fear the sudden loss of value that their families experienced four decades ago.

It should be noted that Randolph’s demographic shift has proceeded at a much slower pace than the changes in Mattapan.  The growth of Randolph’s populations of color has occurred over several decades while Mattapan changed in the space of just several years.  The policies and tactics that caused white flight and property value losses there – including redlining, blockbusting, and the practices of the infamous Boston Banks Urban Renewal Group (B-BURG) – are absent from Randolph.  Yet, the memories of the Mattapan and Dorchester experiences are powerful influences on many residents choosing to leave Randolph.  When interviewees were asked to articulate what they fear Randolph could become the phrases “another Mattapan” or “another Dorchester” were common responses.

These two charts give data on home prices over the last several years.  Note that they are not directly comparable because the numbers are computed differently.  Most importantly, the Boston metro data from Case Shiller is based on an index where the year 2000 was artificially set at “100” and this chart show the change since.  The Randolph data shows actual prices, and it goes back further than 2000.  I put them both here however to show that in terms of the trend, Randolph’s rise and fall is not so different from the region as a whole.


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