Boston’s Absurd Luxury Condo Boom, Summed up in One Video

Who are all these luxury condos for, anyway?

Here in Boston, there seems to be a new cluster of luxury condos sprouting up every other day. They stick out, gaudy agglomerations of glass and gunmetal, often out of character with the neighborhood some developer shoehorned them into.

Boston residents are increasingly rent-burdened, needing $120,000—that is, triple their median salary of $40,000—just to keep housing expenses at 30 percent of their income, according to one study. And even when a luxury development carves out the bare minimum of affordable units as required by the city, their definition of “affordable” could mean a median household income still thousands higher than that of the people already living there.

It’s enough to drive someone crazy. It appears to have done just that to Tory Bullock, who took to the street with a video camera for a good, old-fashioned rant.

“Something I’ve been racking my brain about the last couple months is, who are these apartments for? Because they’re not for us,” Bullock says. “Everywhere I go, I see brand-new luxury apartments, luxury condos popping up everywhere as far as the eye can see. But none of us can afford this.”

His video, posted to Facebook, has already been viewed more than 260,000 times. “It’s interesting because this isn’t my first viral video. I’m on No. 8 now,” Bullock tells me. “At this point I wouldn’t call it surprising, more so humbling.”

At one point, he compares the city’s supply of luxury condos to the limestone caves in the 1998 disaster film Deep Impact, meant to protect one million lucky souls while the rest of humanity is left to try their luck against the comet hurdling toward Earth.

“Here what it has to do with me,” Bullock says, gesturing to the rowhouses bookended by gargantuan luxury developments. “All these apartments in the middle because this is coming and that is coming, the rent is going through the roof. You think I’m playing? You think this is a joke?”

Bullock says at least five of his friends are unable to renew their leases because their rents have shot up.

“Provide healthy affordable alternatives. Make a bunch units in those buildings available to the surrounding community,” he says when asked what he’d like the see the city respond. “I’m not an expert in any of this, just a guy with a camera. I don’t know, it’d just be nice to not have to work 24 hours in order to afford rent. Having time to actually live life would be nice.”