Housing Choice for all income levels, not just zoning for developers

By Christopher Norris, Executive Director, Metro Housing|Boston

Governor Charlie Baker’s Act to Promote Housing Choice bill cuts back unnecessary limitations on zoning and will likely increase housing production. However, it will do very little to assist those most in need.  With an historic booming economy, developing housing for families with the lowest incomes is critical. The Federal Reserve reports that the number of homeless families in Massachusetts increased by 65% between 2007 and 2017.  We only get to develop land once.

Housing production without an affordability component or additional supports will not reduce homelessness.

Any housing production bill should include explicit affordability provisions and direct connections to additional resources so that at least some of the housing produced will benefit those with the lowest incomes.

There are almost 100,000 households on the statewide waitlist for rental assistance.  They will wait years to get to the top of that list.  Even those who reach the top of the list face difficulties, such as finding safe and affordable homes.  Their quest becomes even more difficult if we are not building the homes they can afford.

Metro Housing supports increasing the supply of housing, and at the least we ask that the Governor, the Legislature, and all of the entities supporting the current bill make a public commitment to secure new resources that create affordable and accessible homes during the next legislative session. This pledge will help address the concerns of affordable housing proponents that there is still more work to be done.

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