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Mayor Martin Walsh releases quarterly housing report

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh released his quarterly housing report Tuesday that revealed progress in the city’s plan to expand affordable housing. ILLUSTRATION BY SARAH SILBIGER/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
Boston Mayor Martin Walsh released his quarterly housing report Tuesday that revealed progress in the city’s plan to expand affordable housing. ILLUSTRATION BY SARAH SILBIGER/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh released a quarterly housing report Tuesday that stated that 565 new housing units were permitted this quarter to reach a total of 17,183 units that have been permitted or completed since the launch of the city’s housing plan, “Housing a Changing City: Boston 2030,” according to a Tuesday press release.

The results of the report show that Boston is still on target to meet the goal of creating 53,000 housing units by 2030, according to the release.

“Our population is growing faster today than at any time in our city’s history, and I’m committed to making sure that Boston stays affordable by meeting the demand of our growing city,” Walsh said in the release. “By working across multiple agencies, this administration is working everyday to bring new units on line at a variety of income levels, and we are seeing results.”

By the end of this year’s first quarter, enough housing was completed to house 20,237 new residents. This exceeded the projected population growth, according to the release.

The release stated that the Department of Neighborhood Development and the Neighborhood Housing Trust approved eight projects geared toward low-income housing this quarter. These projects will help create 325 new housing units that are “low-income affordable,” according to the release.

“The City recently awarded $27 million in funding and 143,000 square feet of City real estate, which will leverage more than $200 million in other private and public resources,” the release stated. “Since May, 2015, the Walsh administration has awarded more than $66 million in funding for affordable housing.”

Nick Martin, spokesperson for the Boston Redevelopment Authority, explained in an email that the BRA’s role in creating affordable housing is to collaborate with builders in order to abide by city rules.

“We work with developers to ensure that any new housing proposals comply with the Mayor’s executive order known as the Inclusionary Development Policy (IDP),” Martin wrote in an email. “IDP requires that at least 13 percent of units within new developments of ten or more units that require zoning relief, which represents the vast majority of large-scale housing projects in the city, be deed-restricted as affordable.”

Martin also said he was enthusiastic regarding the results of the quarterly report.

“Mayor Walsh established an ambitious housing plan early in his administration, and we have been working collaboratively with other city agencies to deliver upon the Mayor’s vision,” Martin wrote. “In order to meet the needs of Boston’s rising population, we must grow inclusively, meaning we should foster housing opportunities that are accessible to the diverse population of our city.”

James Connolly, a public policy and political science professor at Northeastern University, pointed out developments in the report.

“We can see clear progress made on the market-rate and middle-income units being produced,” he said, “and Boston does a really great job of creating deed-restricted, middle-income units, which means that there are restrictions on the deed on the level of income that a person can have in order to purchase the apartment.”

Connolly also said that while the report shows progress, it also shows that the City of Boston still has a long way to go in terms of low-income housing.

“The city has created funding for more low-income units to come online in the future,” he said, “but given the rapid pace that we’re creating new market rates units in the city, if we don’t keep the creation of low-income units moving on par … then we’re going to end up in a city where it’s only accessible to the wealthy, and it’s going to be difficult for people who don’t have higher incomes to live here.”

Several Boston residents said affordable housing in Boston is often unattainable, while others said they benefited from the city’s housing situation.

Lamya Karim, 31, of Brighton, said she believes Boston housing is too expensive for most residents.

“I don’t think housing is affordable here,” she said. “I grew up in the Midwest, so everything is cheaper and more affordable. But here it’s almost like you need two people to be able to afford one apartment, so living alone is not very feasible here.”

Joanne Demoura, 49, of Brighton, said Boston’s public housing is what has allowed her to live here.

“I have public housing through Boston’s [Department of] Housing and Urban Development, and it’s a lifesaver,” she said. “I wouldn’t be able to afford to live in Boston if they didn’t have it.”

Patrick Leonard, 41, of South Boston, said the results of this report are a good step up for the city.

“The housing stock is way too low,” he said. “We need it to be more of a residential city where people are going to live and raise children and really plant roots. We need to get more housing here and keep it affordable so that people can stay and raise their kids.”

Lavanya Prabhakar contributed to the reporting of this article.

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