07 Mar Statement of Metro Housing|Boston Regarding An Act to Promote Housing Choices
Governor Charlie Baker’s bill introduced last week, An Act to Promote Housing Choices, is a necessary – but not the only – step that will help cities and towns in the Commonwealth tackle the lack of housing inventory.
The high cost of rent in our region and throughout Massachusetts is a massive barrier for families with low incomes seeking safe and affordable homes, making our state one of the most expensive places to live in the country.
Metro Housing supports many of the provisions contained in this proposed legislation. However, it does not go far enough. Although we laud the legislation’s focus on zoning reform, it is likely that very little of the housing built under this legislation will result in homes that the families we work with can afford. Additionally, in a state with finite room to grow, every lot developed with a market rate apartment eliminates the opportunity to develop an affordable one.
In Metro Housing’s region there are 35,000 families waiting for a housing assistance voucher. The family at the top of that wait list applied eleven years ago, and applicants’ average annual income is approximately $15,000.
Further, family homelessness in Massachusetts has continued to climb. From 1,000 families subsisting in shelters 20 years ago to 3,500 families today, the link between expensive housing and homelessness is unmistakable.
The status quo is not effectively serving our lowest income households, and yet there continues to be silence when it comes to setting a goal to increase the production and supply of homes that are accessible to them. What gets measured gets done. Clearly, families cannot live in homes that do not exist, and many cannot afford to live in homes with market rents.
This proposed legislation is a first step toward creating more housing, but it must intentionally include additional affordability provisions, with targets for deeper subsidies for families with the lowest incomes. We encourage the Legislature to amend the bill, to do more to ensure that everyone – at all income levels – has a place to call home.
About Metro Housing|Boston
Serving more than 25,000 households annually, Metro Housing|Boston is dedicated to mobilizing wide-ranging resources to provide innovative and personalized services that lead families to housing stability, economic security and an improved quality of life. With more than 30 years’ experience piloting and implementing housing programs, it has solidified their position as an industry-leading expert on navigating the affordable housing field. Metro Housing|Boston is committed to making sure that every person in Greater Boston will always have a place to call home. For more information, please visit www.metrohousingboston.org.