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guide

Affordable housing in Boston

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Everyone should have access to a home, regardless of their income or background. You can find information below about affordable rentals and homes in the City.

Affordable Housing Options

Types of housing
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Subsidized Rental Housing

The rent for a subsidized housing unit is linked to your income. In a subsidized unit, you pay a set percentage of your income each month.  This is ideal for households with no or very low incomes. Find out your eligibility.

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Income-restricted

This type of housing is restricted to households earning under a certain amount of money. Eligibility is based on your household size and income. Search Metrolist to find income restricted housing in and around Boston both for rent and for sale. You can learn more about eligibility and calculate your eligibility at our Income Restricted Housing Guide.

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Voucher programs

Rental vouchers help low-income households rent private market apartments. Vouchers give you a set amount to go toward rent. You pay for any rent over that amount. The only voucher program accepting applications right now is the VASH program for veterans.

Income-restricted Housing

Metrolist

Income-restricted housing both in and around Boston can be found on Metrolist. You can easily find housing you are likely to qualify for by using our AMI estimator tool. Eligibility is calculated by AMI% (Area Median Income Percentage). To learn more about eligibility, visit our Income Restricted Housing Guide

Find Income-Restricted Housing

INCLUSIONARY DEVELOPMEnt PROGRAM

This program creates and maintains affordable rental and home ownership opportunities for middle- and moderate-income households. The Boston Planning & Development Agency runs this program.

Neighborhood homes initiative

We use city-owned land to create affordable homes for middle-class homebuyers. The homes are:

  • priced between $250,000-$400,000
  • affordable to households with a combined income between $60,000 and $100,000

These homes are subject to a 50-year resale restriction. We sell the homes to qualified home buyers through a lottery. You must meet income limits, pre-approval requirements, and have enough money saved up.

Neighborhood Homes Requirements

Please keep in mind 

Affordable homes are deed-restricted. This means there is a limit to the equity that you can earn with the property.

income-REstricted HousinG LOTTERIES 

Both income-restricted rental units, and newly constructed for sale properties are applied for through a lottery system. The most recent housing lottery opportunities can be found on both Metrolist and the BPDA website. Pay close attention to application deadlines and instructions. Application windows can be short and submitting multiple applications for any one housing development can result in disqualification. More information on the application process can be found on our Income Restricted Housing Guide.

The Housing Lottery Process
  1. Request a housing lottery application:  Fill out a short form to request the housing application.
  2. Lottery application: Complete the application. If the agent finds problems with your application you will have a chance to edit. Be sure to submit only one application for each development. Submitting more than one application could result in disqualification. You can use the AMI eligibility estimator to find out if you’re likely to qualify before you submit your application.
  3. Application approval:  After your lottery application has been successfully submitted you’ll be notified of the lottery date and time.
  4. Lottery drawing: When the lottery drawing takes place you will receive your number within a week after the lottery is held. You are welcome to attend the lottery drawing in-person.
  5. Ranking and sorting: Lottery agents will sort applicants into the unit types you applied for (for example, 1-bedroom, 2-bedroom) and by affordability. They will then rank each of those pools of applicants per unit type by the preferences indicated on the application and then their lottery number. A preference may or may not be applied for the following types of applicants: Veterans, senior citizens, first time homebuyers, approved professional artists, Boston residents, etc. Visit our Income-Restricted Housing Guide for more detailed information.
  6. Selection: Once the Boston Fair Housing Commission has approved the sorted list, applicants will be selected from the list to view units in the building.
  7. Final Certification: If you’re happy with the unit you’ve viewed it’s time to submit complete financial information to officially certify your eligibility.
  8. Waitlist: If you weren’t high enough on the list to view a unit initially you will then be included on the waitlist for units when they become available in the future. Keep the property manager notified of any changes in your contact details.

Private market tips

You may be able to find housing that is affordable for you in the private market with a little creativity, planning and flexibility.

  • Be prepared. Make sure your paperwork and finances are in order.
  • Calculate your monthly expenses. Find out exactly what you can afford.
  • Take steps to improve your credit. Check the City of Boston's Office of Financial Empowerment!
When you’re looking for a rental, consider these ideas:
  • Rent with roommates.
  • Rent close to public transportation. You’ll save or cut car costs.
  • Start a rental at “off-peak” times. If you can, avoid starting on September 1.
  • Ask friends, neighbors, and your social networks about upcoming housing opportunities.
  • Be flexible. Consider broadening your search area and criteria.
  • Apply to as many opportunities as you can. Follow-up if you don’t hear from anyone.
  • Try to negotiate a lower rent, if possible.