Boston increases affordable housing fees

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh signed an executive order today increasing the affordable housing fees for new development in Boston’s most expensive neighborhoods.

According to The Dorchester Reporter, the new policy divides Boston into three zones.

Zone A includes the North End, the West End, the South Boston Waterfront, Downtown, Chinatown, Beacon Hill, Back Bay, the South End, Fenway and the Longwood Medical Area. In that zone, developers will be required to either make 18 percent of the units affordable or pay the City $380,000 per unit not created. Zone B contains the neighborhoods of Allston-Brighton, Charlestown, Jamaica Plain and South Boston and there the set-aside will also be 18 percent, but the forfeit will be $300,000 per unit. Zone C has Dorchester, Mattapan, Roxbury, East Boston, Roslindale, Hyde Park and West Roxbury. In those neighborhoods the current policy of 15 percent affordable and a $200,000 per unit forfeit will continue.

The policy also expands income requirements from those making 70 percent of the area median income to 100 percent of area median income.

According to The Reporter, affordable housing activists criticized the decision as a step that would hurt the city’s poorest residents. However, AMI calculations are done on moore than just the City of Boston. According to the Boston Redevelopment Authority, a single person would be eligible for affordable housing if they make up to $48,250 a year, with 100 percent of AMI increasing the eligibility to those who make up to $68,950 a year.

“Alas, it’s too little, too late,” the Massachusetts Alliance of HUD Tenants wrote on their Facebook page. “While the increase in the cash constribution option is still welcome, it is still short of the cost of new housing construction.”

Walsh’s move came almost three months after the Cambridge City Council voted to triple its affordable housing fees and about a year after Somerville.

Inclusionary development policies have come under fire recently, with even The Boston Globe finding that the requirements “Can help make it impractical to develop new housing at all” in outer neighborhoods.

In my own experience covering development, residents of neighborhoods like West Roxbury are often wary of the inclusionary development policy, not wanting poor people in their neighborhoods any more than they want renters.



One thought on “Boston increases affordable housing fees

  1. Pingback: BRA renews urban renewal powers | Urban Liberty

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