BOSTON – Tuesday, October 1, 2019 – Building on his Administration’s commitment to creating more housing at all income levels to meet the needs of a growing city, Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced that Boston has surpassed 30,000 units permitted under the administration’s housing plan, Housing a Changing City: Boston 2030. This includes more than 6,000 income-restricted units, or 20 percent of the total new housing, which is set aside for residents who have qualifying incomes. This is a significant milestone reached in the work to create 69,000 new units of housing by the year 2030, as called for in the City’s housing plan. In addition, the administration announced that rental listing prices are stabilizing across the board, based on analysis over the last 18 months.
“Boston’s working families are the backbone of our city, and helped build Boston into the diverse, welcoming city we are today,” said Mayor Walsh. “In Boston, we’re growing faster than any time in the last 50 years, and it’s important that our housing production keeps pace to support our middle class. My priority is to ensure everyone can stay in the neighborhoods they love, and continue to call Boston home. I’m proud of the progress we’ve made and the milestones we’ve reached, which reflects a lot of hard work and strong partnerships in the housing community. We’ll continue to work together with our partners to add affordable housing, and make Boston a place for all.”
Boston continues to lead in creating affordable housing, with one in five units of Boston’s total housing stock and one in four of its rental housing stock made up of deed-restricted affordable units. Of those deed-restricted units, nearly half are affordable to families making less than 60 percent of Area Median Income (AMI), or a household income of approximately $57,000 for two people, or $64,000 for a family of three.
As Boston continues to make strides towards creating more affordable housing, City officials continue to work with regional partners to ensure housing, including multi-family housing, is built through the Metro Mayor’s Regional Housing Task Force. Mayor Walsh and the Task Force worked together to create their regional housing production goal, which aims to create 185,000 new units of housing across the region by the year 2030.
Out of 21 municipalities, from 2011 to 2018, 62 percent of all units permitted were in Boston. For comparison, in that same time period, the City of Cambridge permitted one unit for every 7 units that Boston permitted. Another 22 percent of the permitted units were from five neighboring municipalities: Cambridge, Watertown, Everett, Chelsea and Somerville. Five cities, plus Boston, accounted for 84 percent of all units permitted during those seven years.
“For Greater Boston employers to continue to be able to attract and retain a talented workforce, it is critical that we support the creation of affordable and accessible housing options,” said James E. Rooney, President and CEO of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. “I applaud the Walsh Administration for the significant progress that has been made to create a range of new housing opportunities and to maintain Boston’s competitive edge. The Chamber and our members look forward to continued partnership with the administration and leaders throughout the region to achieve Mayor Walsh’s ambitious housing goals.”
“Exceeding the 30,000-mark reflects the City of Boston’s consistent focus on housing. Boston sets an example for other communities about what it takes to get things done,” said Clark Ziegler, executive director of the Massachusetts Housing Partnership. “We applaud Boston’s emphasis on affordability and transit oriented housing and look forward to seeing the city hit its next milestone.”
Of Boston’s total 30,442 permitted units, more than half were for projects outside of Boston’s downtown core. Recent permits data show that 81 percent of the permits pulled so far in 2019 are for projects in Boston’s neighborhoods outside the downtown core. One in four of the total 30,442 permitted units represent homeownership opportunities, with a little more than half of those being one bedroom or smaller, and the other half being two-bedroom units or larger. When completed, the 30,442 new units are expected to accommodate more than 60,534 residents.
The City of Boston continues to focus on building transit-oriented housing units. Of the permitted units, nearly two out of three are highly transit accessible and within ¼ mile or a five minute walk to major transit, and three out of four units are within ½ mile or a 10 minute walk from a T stop or commuter rail.
“I congratulate Mayor Walsh, Chief Dillon and the City of Boston for reaching this important milestone, of permitting 30,000 new homes, including 6,000 deed-restricted homes,” said MassHousing Executive Director Chrystal Kornegay. “Boston is a national leader in planning for housing growth, and MassHousing is proud to have the City of Boston as our partner. We look forward to continuing to work collaboratively, to build a Commonwealth where residents of all means can live, and thrive.”
In addition, Boston’s strategy of increasing our overall supply of housing units is beginning to show a stabilizing effect on the housing market. Year over year rental listing data from 2017 and 2018 in Boston shows rents increasing by 2.7 percent in older housing stock, and 3.3 percent in all housing, including newly built stock.
Boston has been trending away from large year-over-year increases in rent costs for several quarters as development catches up with demand, creating more rental opportunities across the City. This trend is continuing in 2019: a year over year comparison of the first two quarters in 2018 and 2019 show rent prices incrementally increasing by 1.7 percent in older housing stock, with a 1.5 percent increase in all housing stock.
To accomplish the goals set out in our housing plan, the City of Boston has secured funding to build affordable housing by utilizing a range of tools, including leveraging market-rate development, collecting Linkage and Inclusionary Development Policy (IDP) payments from real estate developers, supporting passage of the Community Preservation Act (CPA) to generate approximately $20 million per year, and successfully applying for funding rounds to acquire additional financial support. The City has invested more than $164 million in funding to create the subsidized housing units in cooperation with the state and other housing entities. To find suitable space for new development, the City has also made three million square feet of real estate available.
Included in the 69,000 new units called for in the city’s housing plan, 15,820 will be income-restricted units, elevating Boston’s total income-restricted inventory to 70,000, which maintains Boston’s current one in five ratio of deed-restricted affordable housing to all housing units in Boston. In addition, the plan sets a goal to preserve 85 percent of Boston’s most at-risk privately-owned affordable units, and purchase 1,000 units of rental housing stock from the speculative market for perpetuity.
Guided by Imagine Boston 2030, and in response to the population growth and development pressure many neighborhoods are facing, the Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) has planning studies underway across the City, including Dorchester’s Glover’s Corner,Allston-Brighton’s Western Avenue, Charlestown’s Rutherford Avenue Corridor, Downtown Boston, East Boston, Mattapan and Newmarket. The goal of each study is to work with the community to create a comprehensive vision for the areas, guiding future growth and investment that is equitable for all. Planning guidelines have been passed for PLAN: Jamaica Plain/Roxbury, PLAN: South Boston Dorchester Avenue and PLAN: Dudley Square in Roxbury.
Mayor Walsh’s 2019 housing security legislative package focuses on expanding upon the work that Boston has done to address the region’s affordable housing crisis and displacement risks for tenants by proposing strengthening current tools and proposing new ones. The housing security bills proposed seek to help existing tenants, with protections for the elderly, right to counsel for those facing eviction and right of first refusal for tenants to purchase their own building. These proposals, if passed, will provide significant new protections and increased housing stability for renters in the City.