More Housing for Massachusetts: The Housing Choice Initiative
To address ever-increasing housing costs across the Commonwealth and skyrocketing Boston rents, the Baker-Polito administration recently announced its outline of the Housing Choice Initiative. The comprehensive plan is designed to empower cities and towns to create more housing through more than $10 million in incentives, grant funding and technical assistance with the goal of adding 135,000 new housing units by 2025.
To qualify, communities must show evidence of recent housing production or a combination of housing production and development-friendly policies. Those that successfully receive a Housing Choice designation from the state are eligible for a variety of critical resources. These range from access to capital grants to preferential treatment when applying to many grant programs, which include MassWorks, Complete Streets, MassDOT capital projects, and PARC and LAND grants.
Governor Baker also proposed new legislation, titled An Act to Promote Housing Choices, in which cities and towns can adopt new local zoning standards by a simple majority vote, as opposed to a two-thirds vote. This change would make it easier for municipalities to ease zoning laws that regulate multifamily housing development and parking, potentially resulting in a growth of the construction of new housing and the services they require.
These resources and incentives are invaluable tools to help municipalities create more affordable housing. The announcement comes at a time when the median Boston rental price is reaching $3,000 per month in some parts of the city and as the median home price in Massachusetts recently topped $400,000. For low-income residents, this continues to be a critical issue and one that we will continue to track in 2018. Though there is still much more to be done, we need our leaders to establish innovative initiatives like these that focus on creating more livable communities for our residents throughout the state.
IBA is committed to providing affordable housing and opportunities for low-income minority residents. As we enter our 50th year, learn how you can help support us and become involved here.