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Mayor Walsh Announces Significant Milestone in Citywide Housing Development

July 7, 2015

Mayor's Office

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Mayor's Office

Housing Starts Surpass $1.5 Billion Mark

BOSTON - Tuesday, July 7, 2015 - Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced that as of the end of June, the City has reached $1.65 billion in housing starts for calendar year 2015. This pace is 138 percent higher than the $692 million in housing starts at the same time last year.

As of June 26, 2015, there were 2,461 units permitted, compared to 1,759 units permitted as of June 30, 2014 - a 40 percent increase over last year. This also marks a 184 percent improvement over production rates in 2013, when only 1,333 units of housing were permitted by June 26 of that year.

"I am extremely pleased by the efforts that have taken place across City agencies to ensure that we are able to meet our housing goals," said Mayor Walsh. "The only way that we will be able to sustain the growth of our city, and our workforce, is by staying focused on our goals and streamlining our processes."

"This level of investment in Boston's housing market is extraordinary," said Chief of Housing Sheila Dillon. "As we work to make sure that Boston stays affordable, bringing new units on line at a variety of income levels is critical. Last quarter, nearly half of Boston's housing starts were at the middle income level, and nearly a quarter of this year's housing starts are affordable to lower-income households. Mayor Walsh has made housing a priority of his Administration, and these numbers are an indication that this focus is paying off."

The City's Inspectional Services Department (ISD) has supported this rapid development by streamlining their permitting processes, reducing bottlenecks and paving the way for the rapid housing development the City will require to meet its goals of producing 53,000 new units of housing by 2030.

ISD has implemented several new departmental policies and permitting procedures, which have enabled the department to process permits at twice the speed. In 2014, ISD formed a partnership with the City of Boston's Department of Innovation Technology (DoIt) to significantly upgrade the permitting process. This collaborative effort has helped modernize and streamline the building and zoning application process. 

In addition, ISD has developed a Zoning Advisory Sub-Committee, which is responsible for expediting the appeals process involving one and two family owner-occupied dwellings and small businesses applying for limited zoning relief. Other departmental upgrades have included extending the hearing hours of the Zoning Board of Appeals and the installation of digital kiosks for processing Board of Appeal applications, all of which contributed to building permits being issued on time and at a much faster rate than ever before.   

"I am extremely proud of the great work my department has been able to accomplish," said ISD Commissioner William Christopher. "This task could not have been accomplished without the leadership of Mayor Walsh and the technology expertise of DoIt. Together we have not only streamlined the permitting process, but also help pave the way for the production of rental units throughout the city."

Of the units currently permitted, 451 - 18 percent of all new units -- are deed-restricted affordable housing, up 25 percent from 2014 (360 units) and 80 percent above the 2013 pace (251 units).  South Boston and the Seaport District saw the highest number of units produced: 915 total and 124 affordable; followed by East Boston, with 374 units, 13 of which are affordable; and Dorchester, with 337 total units and 51 affordable units permitted. 

Earlier this year, Mayor Walsh released his Administration's first progress report on achieving the housing production goals laid out in his ambitious housing plan,  "Housing a Changing City: Boston 2030." The plan, released in October 2014, called for increased transparency into housing policy, including quarterly releases of data and an end of year Annual Report.