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New affordable housing permits in Boston rose to more than 25 percent of all units permitted in 2019


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Neighborhood Development

The permits reflect a shift to increase affordable units in Boston's neighborhoods.

Building on Boston's work to address the need for more affordable housing in Boston, Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced that one in four units of new housing permitted in the City of Boston in 2019 was below market-rate and deed-restricted, according to an analysis of year-end data from the Walsh Administration. According to the data, nearly 26 percent, or 830 of the 3,206 housing units permitted in 2019, will be made available to those meeting income-eligibility criteria. The data also shows that in 2019, 77 of all new permits were in Boston's neighborhoods outside of the downtown area. 

"There is no question that housing is the biggest economic challenge our residents face," said Mayor Walsh. "These permits show that in Boston, we're taking our role in creating and permitting affordable housing seriously, and we continue to do everything in our power to ensure there are affordable housing options available for all those who call Boston home. I want to thank all our partners who share our goals, and make this work possible."

As of the end of 2019, Boston had permitted 32,627 new units of housing, 127 percent  of the target pace necessary to successfully execute Mayor Walsh's comprehensive housing plan, which calls for the creation of 69,000 new units by 2030 as described in Housing a Changing City: Boston 2030.

More than half of the 2019 newly permitted affordable housing units are income- restricted to households earning less than approximately $54,000 for a two-person household. During 2019, the City awarded $50 million in funding to create 445 new income-restricted units and preserve 194 existing affordable units. In addition in 2019, the Boston Planning & Development Agency approved 4,715 residential units, including 1,216 income-restricted units, representing over 26 percent of total units. The BPDA approved projects will generate over $2 million in new Inclusionary Development Policy (IDP) funds and $21.7 million in Linkage fees to support affordable housing and job training. 

These actions have brought the active affordable housing pipeline to a total of 4,890 units. Along with the 6,309 units permitted to date, the City now has 11,199 affordable units that are complete, in construction or underway. This total represents 70 percent of the City's 15,820-unit target for 2030.

"Building affordable housing in Boston is a challenge, but one that we are committed to," said John B. Cruz III, President and CEO of the Cruz Companies. "In 2019, we moved forward on the Michael E. Haynes Arms Apartments on Warren Street in Roxbury. We're building 55 rental units, 46 of which will be below-market and affordable, plus great commercial space, partly on formerly city-owned land. This is one of 14 affordable housing projects we've worked on with the City of Boston. Together, we've built more than 830 units of affordable housing, and I look forward to our continued partnership." 

The Walsh Administration has also made commitments to incentivizing these kinds of affordable developments by making 3 million square feet of city-owned land and buildings available for redevelopment. 2.3 million square feet is in the process of redevelopment, and will ultimately produce 1,770 units of housing, of which 71 percent will be income-restricted affordable units. In 2019 alone, DND designated developers for 262,000 square feet of City-owned real estate that will result in 310 new affordable units. 

"At Caribbean Integration Community Development (CICD), we're working with the City of Boston as we move forward on creating Cote Village, a 100 percent affordable housing facility that reflects the needs of the working class residents in Mattapan," said Donald Alexis, President of CICD. "This city-owned land that has been an eyesore for many decades will house 76 units to be rented at below-market prices, community space, and commercial space that will benefit the Mattapan Square Neighborhood. This is truly a transformative project for Mattapan and we're proud to be a part of it." 

Last week, Mayor Walsh awarded $69.2 million in funding for the creation and preservation of 1,097 units of housing in Brighton, Chinatown, Dorchester, East Boston, Hyde Park, Jamaica Plain, Mattapan, Roslindale, Roxbury and West Roxbury. These funds represent the largest affordable housing funding awards by the City of Boston since the release of Housing a Changing City: Boston 2030 in 2014. The $69.2 million commitment is over and above the commitment made in his State of the City address last month, where Mayor Walsh pledged $500 million over the next five years to create thousands of homes across Boston affordable to households with low and middle incomes. 

In an effort to remove barriers to housing for residents, Mayor Walsh last week also announced that he is launching a working group to study broker fees in Boston to understand how these fees impact renters in the City. 

Through increases in the City's operating and capital budgets, the investment announced in the Mayor's State of the City address will double the City's current funding in affordable housing to $100 million. Additional revenue will be generated by selling the Lafayette Garage, as well as working with the Massachusetts Legislature to approve a transfer fee of up to 2 percent on private real estate sales over $2 million in the City of Boston. These combined investments will increase the available funds for affordable housing to five times current funding levels over the next five years.

The need for affordable housing options for Boston's aging population has also been a focus of similar incentives. Mayor Walsh's housing plan calls for 2,000 new units of low-income senior housing by 2030. Offering city-owned land and funding for deeper affordability has stimulated development, with 507 units currently in development, and another 853 in the pipeline.That pipeline includes Boston's first LGBTQ-friendly senior housing development on the site of the former Rogers School in Hyde Park. When complete, the $33 million development will preserve the beauty of the original 1899 building, while creating 74 new income-restricted rental units that will be welcoming to seniors 62 years and older, and specifically welcoming to seniors who identify as LGBTQ. All units will be deed-restricted in perpetuity, and will provide affordable, safe housing for seniors across a wide variety of incomes.

Since Mayor Walsh took office in 2014, the City of Boston has built more than 65 percent of all  new homes in Greater Boston, with 20 percent of them deed-restricted for low- and middle-income households. Boston has surpassed 32,000 units permitted under the administration's housing plan, including more than 6,200 deed-restricted units and 500 units for senior housing. More than 1,000 Boston Housing Authority units have been renovated, and the Department of Neighborhood Development has assisted more than 600 homebuyers in purchasing their homes, and has aided 946 homeowners with mortgage workouts or other assistance in averting foreclosure or stabilizing their housing. 

Affordable Housing