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Boston and affordability have seemed like mutually exclusive terms in recent years, as New England’s largest city is now one of the most expensive places in the world to live. That's why developers, politicians, neighborhood activists, urban planners and just about anyone else with ties to Beantown have been talking about the city’s housing crisis.
Making housing more affordable has become one of the region’s biggest concerns, but nobody seems to have a solution with widespread impact.
Boston’s go-to affordable housing tool has been the Inclusionary Development Policy. The program calls for developers of market-rate projects with more than 10 units to designate 13% of those units as affordable housing or donate to a separate fund that accompanies the policy. The IDP had its most successful year in 2018, creating 548 units of affordable housing across the entire city. The program has created 2,599 affordable housing units since its founding in 2000.
But Boston Mayor Martin Walsh says it is not enough.
At a Bisnow event in April, Walsh said he has been in discussions with developers about his plan to raise the IDP to 18%. While Boston developers have previously cautioned raising the affordable housing mandate would diminish construction in the city, the mayor said “not everyone was happy, but not everyone was mad.”
There are also calls from the private sector for creating more luxury housing across the city — as it could spark a housing trickle-down effect and bring more affordable housing to market. Others say creating more student housing returns more residential units to year-round residents and also brings rent down.
Bisnow wants to know your thoughts on how Boston can — or can't — become a more affordable place to live. Are government mandates the key to unlocking a solution? Can the private sector come up with its own affordable housing plan that doesn't leave the working class out of Boston’s ongoing economic boom?
Take this survey, and let us know your thoughts.