Massachusetts Governor Declares $10M Plan to Produce 135,000 Housing Units by 2025
Massachusetts, including the city of Boston and the surrounding areas, is on a housing crisis. Thankfully, there are government officials who want to make sure this problem is addressed. The governor of the state has announced that he has a goal of helping create approximately 135,000 housing units, a target that should be accomplished by the year 2025.
Aside from the number of residential projects, the governor also proclaimed that he would allocate a budget for reaching the goal, amounting to $10 million. The funds will go to the newly formed Housing Choice Initiative, which is a part of his administration.
The governor stated his legislative proposal that aims to ease the process of altering local zoning in the municipalities of the state. This move has the intention to make more multifamily units in the region, along with in-law apartments and starter homes.
This particular legislation is now famously called “An Act to Promote Housing Choices.” If approved, it will also help make it easier for achieving parking requirements that many residential developments are complaining about because they are quite strict and complicated.
According to the governor, the supply of housing is crucial during these times when the economy is growing. As a result, there is a continuous and robust demand for housing supply all over the state. Providing the solution to these needs can assist the commonwealth in ensuring its growth and economic success.
With the initiative, it is possible for the Commonwealth to experience maximized collaboration with other state agencies. There will also be more data-driven policies and innovation will be supported as the municipalities in the state will have a much better tool for creating housing. Whenever and wherever accommodation is needed, people will get what they are demanding for all over the area.
A Partnership on Regional Housing
The declaration of the governor followed the news regarding the 14 towns and cities, which comprise of the Metropolitan Mayors Coalition of Greater Boston. This group is reported to have formed a partnership on regional housing, which will set a new production goal for housing in the region. Aside from that, it also has a purpose of accelerating the pace of the construction of different residential developments throughout Greater Boston.
The executive director of MassHousing has already confirmed that the agency would add more funds to the $10 million budget, which will be allocated to the Housing Choice Initiative. In order to help the towns and the cities in the region, MassHousing will add $2 million, which can help in delivering new housing consistently. It will also lend a hand in attaining the local planning goals of the government.
MassHousing has stated that the Planning for Housing Production Program is their way of helping make the development called Chapter 40B less debatable but at the same time, more collaborative. The aim is to empower municipalities so that they can implement more housing solutions that are focused on reaching the target goals and standards.
In an earlier report, the lack of housing is threatening the economic well-being of the area. Many government officials and experts believe that it is a crisis that can affect the growth and development of the commonwealth. In response to this concern, more than a dozen of towns and cities all around Greater Boston have started to work together to form a partnership.
The formation of the partnership was announced in early December 2017, which aims to accelerate the constructions of residential projects throughout the area. The plans of the group included setting a new production goal for regional housing, along with a timeline that will allow them to achieve that particular goal.
To determine when it should be attained, the group will take into consideration the demographic data, as well as economic forecasts, projections, analysis of the present levels of production, and the development trends.
According to the mayor of the city of Boston, one of the top priorities right now is not just to provide housing to the people but make sure they can afford the options available. The Mayor said in an interview that it is no secret that metro Boston is where all the affordable housing can be found. Therefore, it is their job now as they all work together to have the same trait all over the cities and towns in the region.
The plan is one of the steps the government is taking to ensure that people who want to live in Boston can achieve it. The Mayor promised that they would cooperate with their partner towns and cities across the state to guarantee that there will be homes for everyone.
In 2017, there were about 12,900 permits for housing projects in Greater Boston. The number of issued permits has gone up 12 percent compared to the year before that. A study that discovered this fact also learned that the city of Boston has almost 60 percent increase in housing permits for complexes that come with at least five residential units. Additionally, there is a 41 percent increase in new housing permits all over Greater Boston in 2017 alone.
The newly formed group has municipal leaders who are assisted by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council. The representatives included many towns and cities namely:
The representatives of the group have already outlined a pledge for regional housing partnership. This guarantee has the aim of speeding up the construction of housing units in the area. With this change, it means every community in Metro Boston will be involved, and they will share the strong demand for housing throughout the district. In doing so, housing affordability can be increased for all kinds of household and incomes.
The group also pledged to create more housing, whether it is owner-occupied of a rental. These units will come in a variety of sizes, such as those with two to three bedrooms, which are suitable for people who have children.
They also want to make sure that housing will be near transit, as well as in walkable places. The group also wants to make use of design standards that can improve the physical accessibility of the housing units no matter what the abilities and ages of the people who will utilize them.
The representatives also desire to help in reducing evictions, while eliminating unfair practices of landlords when it comes to their rentals and mitigating displacement. They also wish to create more permanent housing for people who do not have a place to call home. This way, they can be sure that they will have a much safer and more stable housing option.
They also want to help abolish discrimination that targets both buyers and tenants. It will result in having fair and unbiased access to opportunities for housing. It is also essential for the group that their constituents understand the significant impact of housing ability. It can influence the economic health of the region, which is why limited supply of housing should be solved right away.
When there is inadequate housing supply in any area, people who wish to live in Boston or other places will find it very challenging to locate areas where they can stay. It can be problematic not only for these buyers or renters but also for businesses. Employers will have a hard time when it comes to retaining their workers and recruiting new ones to their firm.
Greater Boston seems to be in dire need of housing, especially the units that work for different varieties of incomes and household types, including the renters, first time buyers, families who have children with them, seniors, disabled persons, and empty nesters.
The government of Massachusetts appears to have supported the Metro Mayors coalition as well as the MAPC. According to the housing and community development’s state undersecretary, Massachusetts should be able to deliver more housing in more places at the soonest possible time. The focus is set on establishing regional housing goals that are measurable regarding success while building strategies that can help deliver the purpose of the initiative.
The Housing Choice Initiative
The current administration has taken steps into addressing specific issues, including the ever-increasing costs of housing throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The skyrocketing rents in Boston is also a huge issue, and many would-be renters look somewhere else to find a place they can lease for a less expensive monthly rate.
The Housing Choice Initiative is a comprehensive plan designed to sanction cities and towns in creating more housing. The initiative comes with more than $10 million in incentives, along with technical assistance and grant funding. The goal is to add about 135,000 units, which is targeted to be achieved by 2025.
Communities that may be interested in being a part of the Housing Choice Initiative can apply to the administration. The documents needed include evidence that shows their area has started some production of housing units. Another option is to have a combination of development-related policies and housing production.
If a particular community is successful in proving it should be chosen, it will garner a Housing Choice title from the state. Such designation gives way to eligibility for different resources, which can be anything such as access to grants and preferential treatment if ever they apply to grant programs. These programs include MassDOT capital projects, PARC and LAND, MassWorks, and Complete Streets grants.
As mentioned above, the governor of the state has proposed new legislation, which bears the title of AN Act to Promote Housing Choices. This particular bill provides cities and towns a chance to adopt new zoning standards, which will become simpler because they would only require one majority vote instead of having a two-thirds vote.
Because of the impending change, if ever it is approved, municipalities will have less time to spend on regulating housing developments for multifamily units and parking. The zoning laws will become less controlling as well, which may potentially result in more construction in the areas so that new housing will be much faster to achieve. Plus, they can also access services in a much more comfortable and relaxed way, thanks to this new legislation.
Resources, grants, and incentives are helpful tools that are invaluable to these municipalities when it comes to the creation of affordable housing in several places in Boston. This announcement of the proposed legislation occurred when the median rental price in Boston has reached $3,000 monthly in some spots in the city. As for the median home price in the state, it recently surpassed $400,000.
While many residents in the area may not find this an issue, there are also low-income people who see this as a challenge for them, especially because Boston is projected to keep increasing in rents and home prices this 2018.
The solution for having affordable housing in Boston requires a lot of things to be done and it will take some time before it can be addressed appropriately. However, the leaders are already establishing innovative efforts, such as the Act mentioned above, which focus on producing more communities where every type of resident can find a livable housing unit, not only in Boston but throughout the state.
Additionally, the governor’s proposed legislation for the zoning changes is modeled on a specific program called the Green Communities program. It is a platform that offers rewards to cities and towns whenever they take any steps that would help them achieve being a climate-friendly community.
The areas that qualify for the program will have access to capital grants, along with access to the technical assistance from MassHousing, which provided $2 million grants in helping the communities make progress in providing affordable housing for the people of Boston.
In December, the administration also announced that there would be an additional $1.3 million in grant funding, which will be allocated for 37 projects under the Planning Assistance Grant Program. This specific program is a way to encourage the conservation of land, along with housing production and reduced energy consumption.
The policy package was created in the hopes of the commonwealth to address the hot housing market of the Bay State where the home prices are increasing faster than the other states in the nation. Even more reason for potential residents to worry about is that the rent prices in Boston are ranking as among the highest in the country.
While it is good news for the real estate market, including the sellers, landlords, and real estate investors, the rising prices limit the residents’ options in looking for a place they can call home. Homebuyers and renters have several problems that include making lifestyle and financial choices.
Getting Support from Different Organizations
The governor talked about the Housing Choice Initiative with the Assistant Secretary of Housing and Community Development, the Mayor of Somerville, and the town administrator of Littleton. The meeting was held in Roxbury just last December.
The Somerville Mayor has expressed his excitement about the new program of the administration. In a statement, the town administrator of Littleton touted the inventory of the town’s subsidized housing in which it outdoes the 10 percent goal of the 40B law. Littleton has reached 12.9 percent in affordable housing units. According to him, the town has a healthy housing market, and the housing stock has kept increasing since 2010.
Before the formal announcement of the initiative, it already received praise from different organizations, including the Massachusetts Municipal Association, the Conservation Law Foundation, and the NAIOP Commercial Real Estate Development Association of Massachusetts.
The executive director of the Massachusetts Municipal Association believed that community leaders require tools, incentives, flexibility, and resources, while they preserve their authority in decision-making. There may not be a one-size-fits-all solution, but the Housing Choice Program is a laudable initiative simply because it stands with the towns and cities. All the areas in the state can achieve real progress when the government works with them.
As for the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, the group was pleased with the specific advantages that will be granted to the Housing Choice communities. Since the members have always supported policies that nurture denser developments in residential housing, the initiative is something to be happy about as it can help many towns and cities in the commonwealth.
The executive of the mentioned group has estimated that there would be about 50 municipalities whose applications would be accepted under the program. Other associations have also expressed their sentiments regarding the initiative, including the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance and Great Neighborhoods, which are both quite pleased with the administration since they believe it acknowledges the fundamental role of zoning.
The reform in zoning is crucial to solving the housing crisis that is currently troubling Boston and the rest of Massachusetts. Aside from the 135,000 housing units, it can also be remembered that the Mayor of Boston has set a goal to achieve about 53,000 new housing units in the city by 2030. With the initiative of the administration, it would be much easier for Boston as well as other places in the state to accomplish the plan for more housing developments.