My name is Raber Umphenour. I am a filmmaker living and working in Boston, pursuing the development of affordable artist live-work housing for Boston artists; with a community goal of creating 250 affordable studios for artists to live and work in over the next 5 years.
As a filmmaker living and working in Boston, I know how valuable it is to be able to put down roots and commit to a community; that's hard to do when you keep having to move your studio time and time again. Eventually, I wanted something that would last.
In 2013, the building myself and some of my fellow artists were living and working in was put on the market for sale. We responded by creating a new non-profit company, and in a period of 14 business days, we raised over $1.1 million as a down payment to purchase the building outright. Over the months that followed, we secured an additional $19 million in financing, and purchased the building - securing it as an 89 studio artist live-work building that would be affordable for artists in perpetuity.
As Boston real estate prices rise, the development of affordable housing continues to be be a challenge. Finding inventive ways of securing sites for the development of more affordable live-work housing is a huge challenge.
Boston; as an affordable city, with commerce, universities, culture, tech all living and working side-by-side. WE have a chance to write this story together, and show other cities how this dream of inclusion and diversity can be achieved.
What advice would you give to the aspiring leaders and changemakers among Boston's millennial population?
Be passionate but pragmatic. Focus on developing relationships with people you disagree with. Learn from them, understand how they work and how they think, and exercise empathy in your vision and goals. Build and nourish a great team: the success we have had and are striving to build on wouldn't be possible without many others.
SPARK IMPACT AWARDS
SPARK Boston is Mayor Walsh’s millennial engagement initiative. Our mission is to engage the next generation of civic leaders and social entrepreneurs in the work of city government. From dedicated public servants to community builders and connectors, millennials are some of Boston’s most impactful citizens. Each year, the City of Boston celebrates the millennial contribution to our city with the Annual SPARK Impact Awards.