Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Boston Affordable Housing Program Kicks Off Best Year Yet

Boston policymakers and developers have been making serious strides to ensure Boston is a more affordable and inclusive place to live. Statistics shown on the city's Inclusionary Development Policy, reveal there were 546 new units of affordable housing created in Boston in 2018. Despite these strong developments, Boston's real estate community has been stressing the importance of everyone's involvement in continuing to fix the city's housing crisis and achieve housing targets set by numerous Boston lawmakers. 

Developing housing in Boston is no easy task. One-bedroom residential units can cost upwards of $450K to build, and the median rent for the same units runs $2,400 per month on average. By utilizing a mixture of federal and local programs, the state has been taking steps towards creating more affordable housing. Nationwide, one of the most effective ways to create and sustain affordable housing, has been the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit. Developers have had the incentive to construct and build affordable housing thanks to the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit and tax-exempt bonds. 

Furthermore, Boston has its own tax credit program in place to further encourage affordable housing opportunities. There are programs like the Affordable Housing Trust Program, the Housing Stabilization and Investment Fund, the Capital Improvement and Preservation Trust Fund, the Housing Innovations Fund and the Facilities Consolidation Fund. Also, Mayor Marty Walsh introduced a 14-bill legislative package in January in an effort to build a more inclusive and equitable city, which called for more affordable housing funding and stronger protections for low-income residents facing eviction. He also signed a law into measure which regulates and restricts short-term rentals for units listed on Airbnb for free up more housing in favor of people signing a yearlong lease.  

Mayor Marty Walsh hopes to see 69,000 new units of housing created by 2030, while Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker wants 135,000 new houses statewide by 2025. Along with the creation of more affordable housing units, many Boston lawmakers want to address the issue of affordable housing by enacting rent control in Boston. A group of state lawmakers, including representative Michael Connolly, intend to file a bill to allow municipalities in Massachusetts to enact rent control, which was officially banned by voters statewide in 1994. However, rent control imposes many issues and hampers the desire for investors to build housing. 

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