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Last updated: 7/13/17

Density Bonus Pilot

The program gives developers incentives in exchange for more affordable units.

What’s a density bonus? We allowed developers in the program to increase the height or floor area of their units. In exchange, they would restrict the income on a percentage of their residential units.

We launched this ongoing experiment in January 2017. In this program, the Housing iLAB has worked with:

The City created new density bonus zoning for the Strategic Planning Areas of PLAN: JP/Rox and PLAN: Dot Ave. The two areas are distinctly different and the resulting policies reflect this. We’ll use the lessons we learn to decide whether to expand density bonus incentives to other areas of the City. We also plan to improve the program based on our findings.

Questions? Contact:
26 COURT STREET
11TH FLOOR
BOSTON, MA 02108-2501

Why we did this

The City is losing funding for affordable housing more and more every year. For that reason, we’re always looking for new ways to create more affordable units. Density Bonus Policies have been successful in other cities. These policies can create lots of new affordable housing without using public funds.

The experiment

Our hypothesis? The incentive of an increased height or floor area of units will push developers to join the pilot program. Based on this, we expect an increase in the percentage of income-restricted units in the pilot neighborhoods.

Results and lessons learned

We’re still learning

This is an ongoing project. We’re still learning about how workable this is for developers, and how the results might benefit the communities. But, through working with the community, we have learned that context matters.

Understanding differences

The two pilot areas are incredibly different. They each have physical characteristics and resident interests that are unique. The resulting policies reflect these differences. By getting input from all stakeholders, we hope to create a more detailed and balanced policy.