Mayor Walsh releases "Housing a Changing City: Boston 2030"
October 9, 2014
Mayor Martin J. Walsh today released “Housing a Changing City: Boston 2030,” the administration’s housing plan. The plan, which aims to create housing across demographics and neighborhoods, outlines the City’s strategies for housing an expected 91,000 new Bostonians by the year 2030, and calls for the creation of 53,000 new units of housing at a variety of income levels across the City.
“Boston is growing, and I am committed to making sure that the prosperity Boston is enjoying reaches every neighborhood and every Boston resident,” Mayor Walsh said. “Any person who wants to contribute to making Boston better should be able to live and succeed here - regardless of their income level, race, or physical ability.
“Today, we put forward a bold plan with achievable goals that will carry us well into the future. And today, I invite everyone, from long-time residents to new arrivals, from architects to activists, to join my administration in putting this bold plan into action.”
The new housing plan was developed using sophisticated demographic data prepared for the City of Boston by the Massachusetts Area Planning Council. The City analyzed the data by age and income level to create specific goals for the types of housing that Boston will need to accommodate future growth and stabilize the market.
By the year 2030, Boston will reach more than 700,000 residents, a number the City has not seen since the 1950’s. To plan for this growth, the City estimates that of the 53,000 units of housing required, 44,000 will need to be built for the workforce – those aged 25 to 65; 5,000 must be built for Boston’s growing senior citizen demographic; and 4,000 units must be created to create a vacancy rate to stabilize the market and bring rents and housing prices under control.
In order to ensure that those most in need are able to find housing, the City proposes to increase the rate of production of affordable housing in the City by 50 percent, creating a total of 6,500 new units of low-income housing for the workforce by the year 2030. Although nationally, Boston has the largest share of its housing stock set aside as affordable housing, MAPC estimates the City will see a net increase of nearly 10,000 new low-income workforce households.
The bulk of the housing to be created will be in the middle-income sector, where the City aims to double the pace of middle income housing production, helping create 20,000 new units of middle class housing. The plan defines its middle class as residents with household incomes between $50,000 and $125,000.
The majority of the City’s middle income housing is expected to be built by the private development community. In order to stimulate the market, Mayor Walsh’s plan outlines a first-ever set of incentives to drive down development costs, including zoning relief, permitting reform, tax incentives, modifications to the Inclusionary Development Policy, and better use of City-owned land.
A significant factor in developing the plan was the sharp increase in the number of senior citizens living in Boston. By 2030, one in five Boston households will be of retirement age – a 53 percent increase. Many of these senior citizens are choosing to age in place, occupying units formerly available to middle income workforce families.
The plan calls for expansion of housing support services for these seniors, so that those who wish to remain in their homes are able to do so. Seniors who wish to downsize, however, or who are in need of affordable housing with supports, pose an additional challenge to the housing market, as federal funds available to build new affordable senior housing were eliminated in 2010, while the cost to build senior housing has increased dramatically. To that end, the Mayor’s plan calls for the City to maintain its pace of low-income senior housing production, creating 1,500 new units of senior housing by 2030, while encouraging the market to develop an additional 3,500 units of senior-oriented housing.
The plan also calls for the construction of an additional 16,000 new dorm beds. The construction of these beds will free up an estimated 5,000 units of middle income housing, decreasing the number of students renting units in the private rental market by 50 percent. This decrease is expected to significantly relieve pressure on the rental housing market in several neighborhoods.
The plan is expected to generate $21 billion in new development, and to create an estimated 51,000 construction jobs through the year 2030. In order to support the additional costs of building City-funded housing, the plan lays out an agenda for raising $20 million in resources annually through a variety of sources, including more efficient use of state and federal resources, a review of policies such as the Inclusionary Development Policy, adjustments to the City’s Linkage fees, and evaluating the feasibility of and support for the Community Preservation Act.
As part of the administration’s commitment to transparency and data-driven results, the execution of Boston 2030 will be accessible to the public, with annual progress reports and quarterly updates on results. In addition, execution of the plan will require the City to examine its own processes and procedures, including new websites and online resources to increase transparency, residential zoning reform, and increased performance management.
For those interested, please follow the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #Boston2030.
The report can be found on line at bit.ly/Boston2030.