Walsh Addresses Affordable Housing Shortage with ‘Boston 2030’ Plan

by Peter Thomas Ricci

Affordable housing has been missing in action lately, and the Mayor Walsh is trying to find it.

boston

(Photo credit: Das Nili of WikiMedia)

Middle class housing in the post-bubble housing market has become increasingly rare in the city of Boston, but new plans for the city aim to address that trend.

The “Boston 2030” plan, according to a new report by Boston.com, intends to convince homebuilders to construct more affordable housing options for the middle class via tax incentives and favorable land deals.

Affordable Housing MIA

Indeed, housing affordability has become a problem in Boston’s housing market, with seven of the city’s 15 neighborhoods all but inaccessible for today’s middle class, according to a 140-page report the city released.

Boston 2030 plans to address that through classic supply and demand – Boston’s population is expected to pass 700,000 by 2030, so the plan calls for 53,000 new apartments and condos by that time, with the target price range for condos at $300,000 to $400,000 and for rentals at $2,000 to $2,500 a month.

Similarly, the plan calls for the creation of 20,000 new middle class homes by 2030; Boston’s middle class, according to the report, earns $80,000 a year, but such an income only covers the bottom 23 percent of the city’s for-sale inventory – the South End, Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Charlestown, South Boston, Fenway and even Jamaica Plain neighborhoods, for instance, are out of range.

Finding Participants

As Boston.com notes, though, locating builders who will be willing to participate in the Boston 2030 plan could prove difficult. With how high land and labor costs are, builders have trended towards higher-priced luxury developments, especially in light of city restrictions on how many units can be built on a single site (not to mention resistance from residents to new developments).

The city’s plan addresses that through a number of means, including: upping the number of homes that can be built on available land; waiving the property taxes on new middle-class developments during the construction/sales process; selling city-owned property at lower prices, on the condition that the land be used for moderately priced homes; and, most bold of all, lowering hourly rates for union hard harts when working on middle-class developments.

Whatever approach the city takes, it will not be immediate – the city will begin surveying neighborhoods for middle-class developments in early 2015.

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