It is well-known that homeowners have an outsized role in local politics. In Brookline, 50% of residents rent and 50% own their homes. We also have a representative Town Meeting form of government, meaning that there is a 240 person municipal legislature called Town Meeting. I matched the addresses of our Town Meeting Members with our Town Assessor’s parcel data to figure out what proportion of Town Meeting Members own their homes and what kind of properties they live in. At least 82% of Town Meeting Members own property; their names matched the property owner’s names at their address.
Moreover, while just 15% of housing units are single family, just over half of TMMS live in single family homes.This is just one of the myriad ways that the powerbrokers in local politics fail to resemble the citizens: age, race, gender, and income are likely others. Overrepresentation of homeowners likely alters public policy in many ways, especially zoning and construction of new apartments.