Mid-Year Update: The Status of Affordable Housing in Greater Boston and What’s Next
During his second inaugural address, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh recommitted himself to tackling Greater Boston’s housing shortage, vowing to “increase [Boston’s] targets for low-income homes, moderate-income homes, senior housing and overall units.” Now that we are over halfway through the year, we’ve provided an overview of the city’s progress and recently announced initiatives that aim to improve our neighborhoods and their accessibility.
Where do we stand? In 2014, Mayor Walsh published “Housing a Changing City – Boston 2030,” a comprehensive plan outlining strategies for stabilizing the housing market. As part of its focus, the city established a goal of creating 53,000 new housing units by 2030 in order to keep pace with population growth, relieve pressure on communities’ pre-existing housing stock and promote affordability. The city, as of April 2018, has reached 98 percent of its goal, with 26,000 new residential units either complete or under construction and an additional 26,000 proposed units under review.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and Mayor Walsh have also made funding available for the development of affordable housing and for use by government agencies that prevent displacement. For instance, Governor Baker recently signed a $1.8 billion bond bill dedicating funds toward the revitalization of public housing and in the form of tax credits for affordable housing and historic preservation projects. Additionally, as part of Boston’s 2019 fiscal budget, Mayor Walsh has proposed reserving $350,000 for the Office of Housing Stability, investing in efforts to help families and individuals facing eviction or foreclosure, displacement by natural disasters or destructive events, or a housing crisis.
What other initiatives are underway? One initiative that we’re particularly excited about involves a refreshed focus on urban planning and zoning under Imagine Boston 2030. Working with rapidly growing communities, Mayor Walsh recently announced a study that aims to “preserve wisely, enhance equitably and grow inclusively” Greater Boston neighborhoods experiencing major changes, such as East Boston, Downtown Boston, Mattapan, Newmarket and Allston-Brighton. By looking at the unique conditions of each community, the city hopes to find solutions for improving transportation, preserving neighborhood character, promoting economic development and increasing affordable housing.
Our take? The progress made by our local and state government indicates a thoughtful commitment to promoting dynamic growth throughout Greater Boston and Massachusetts. Yet, sustainable change takes a very long time and more still must be done to establish equitability. For instance, the city, property owners and developers must work together to build affordable housing units in the heart of commercial centers, so that our business and cultural districts are representative of Boston’s diversity.
As staunch advocates of creating neighborhoods that all residents can access and be proud of, we will continue to communicate with civic leaders, property owners and developers the importance of establishing communities that are culturally dynamic, economically thriving and cost effective for all residents that desire to live there.
We are proud to be working to develop housing opportunities for low-income households and minority residents in Boston. For more information on how you can support IBA, please visit our page: http://www.ibaboston.org/donate/