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1,023 new units of affordable housing created in 2020


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Neighborhood Development

New deed-restricted housing units were permitted by the City of Boston in 2020 during a global pandemic

Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced today that in 2020 Boston surpassed the 1,000-unit mark for new affordable housing units permitted in a single year. This 1,023 unit total represents the largest number of affordable units in a single year since 2017, when a total of 1,044 units were permitted. In 2020, this high number of permits was achieved despite the months-long construction shutdown necessitated by the global coronavirus pandemic.  

"We are committed to creating a Boston that anyone, at any income level, can afford to live in," said Mayor Walsh. "As a result of our administration's commitment to the safety and security of Boston residents, especially during these trying times, we are continuing to create more affordable housing in our neighborhoods, which will allow more people and families to find homes in the neighborhoods they love."

A record 30 percent of all housing units permitted in 2020 were income-restricted. Out of all the housing units in Boston, nearly 20 percent are reserved for low- and moderate-income residents; and more than 25 percent of its rental housing stock is reserved for low- and moderate-income residents. Boston's share of affordable housing is higher than any other major city in the country.

"Despite the challenges created by the pandemic this past year, the City of Boston's steadfast commitment to increasing affordable housing allowed us to continue our partnership to open Phase One of a new development in Roxbury that will create a total of 475 apartments, to break ground on another in Mattapan that will build 135 apartments and to look forward to a third in Nubian Square that will start this year," said Aaron Gornstein, President and CEO of Preservation of Affordable Housing, a nonprofit developer based in Boston.

2020's permit totals for income-restricted housing include 911 units that are within one-half miles of public transportation, such as the new 135 units that will be built at The Loop at Mattapan Station, and the 44 units at 25 Amory Street in Jackson Square in Jamaica Plain, which is part of the Jamaica Plain and Roxbury planning effort. Of the 1,023 total, fifty units were set aside for individuals experiencing homelessness. Eighty units are reserved for households earning at or below 30 percent of Area Median Income (AMI) or $38,350 per year, including some of the 23 units reserved for senior Bostonians at 41 North Margin Street in Boston's North End, or some of the 42 units that will be built for seniors in East Boston's Maverick Square. Another 523 units are reserved for households earning at or below 60 percent of AMI or $65,000 per year for a family of three. The remaining 477 of those units will be deed-restricted units for households with a combined income of up to 80 percent of AMI or about $85,000 for a family of the same size. 

Maintaining Boston's historically high level of income-restricted housing has always been a goal of Mayor Walsh's comprehensive housing policy, Housing a Changing City: Boston 2030. Currently, the City of Boston has permitted 7,325 and is on track to create the 15,820 new affordable units called for in the housing plan, despite the construction shutdown that occurred in 2020 due to the pandemic. 

"The past year was unprecedented in our efforts to meet the housing challenges faced by residents across the Commonwealth, yet the collaborative resolve by the housing community - both public and private  - resulted in highly successful outcomes like the production of more than 1,000 new affordable rental homes for households in Boston," said MassHousing Executive Director Chrystal Kornegay. "Despite this trying time, we continue to stand steadfast with our partners to create housing and economic opportunities throughout the state and commend the City of Boston for its leadership and results in this critical effort." 

The onset of the coronavirus and subsequent quarantine infused the work to create new income-restricted housing with even deeper urgency. The need to shelter in place throughout this crisis has underlined the need for safe, stable, affordable housing for all Bostonians, particularly its most vulnerable residents, and those suffering economically due to job or income loss. 

"While it was a very difficult year, with many challenges, Boston was able to permit, fund, and begin construction on over 1,000 new affordable, income-restricted housing units," said Sheila A. Dillon, Chief of Housing. "These new units will provide safe and secure homes for seniors, families, and our homeless. The pandemic has reinforced that safe and affordable housing is a critical public health response." 

Since 2014, funding from the city's operating and capital funding for housing programs has increased by more than 300%, while adjustments to the Inclusionary Development and Linkage Policies, and the adoption of the Community Preservation Act have resulted in tens of millions of dollars of additional revenue for housing. This funding has supported the creation of affordable rental and homeownership opportunities, the development of permanent supportive housing for homeless households, and assistance for renters facing eviction. It has also supported the conversion of hundreds of market-rate units into income-restricted affordable housing and the creation of the first City-funded rental voucher program for low-income Bostonians. In 2020, the Walsh administration invested $40 million in public resources into income-restricted, affordable housing which leveraged another $270 million in other public and private investment sources for a total $310 million investment. 

In 2020, the Boston Planning & Development Agency approved 10,123 new residential units, of which 2,826 were income-restricted, representing over 27 percent of total units.

Since the release of the original Housing a Changing City: Boston 2030 plan in 2014, 26,623 new units of housing have been completed, making significant progress in meeting Boston's housing needs. An additional 9,354 units are currently under construction.  Income-restricted housing stock has grown along with overall new production, with nearly 5,600 income-restricted units completed and over 1,700 units under construction. As a result of the new supply, advertised rents had been stabilizing in Boston, even before the COVID-19 Pandemic. For more information on the City of Boston's work to create more housing, please visit Housing A Changing City: Boston 2030.  

About the Department of Neighborhood Development (DND)

The Department of Neighborhood Development is responsible for housing the homeless, developing affordable housing, and ensuring that renters and homeowners can find, maintain, and stay in their homes. As part of the ongoing coronavirus response, the Office of Housing Stability is also conducting tenant's rights workshops to educate residents about the eviction moratorium and their rights. The Boston Home Center continues to provide down payment assistance to first-time home buyers and home repairs for seniors and low-income residents. The Supportive Housing Division is working with various partners around the city to rapidly house individuals who are experiencing homelessness. For more information, please visit the DND website.