Three Ideas to Boost Gateway Cities’ Housing Production
Ben Forman featured in Banker & Tradesman
January 29, 2023
SUBARBS ARE getting the lion’s share of the blame for Massachusetts’ colossal failure to produce housing. While their overtly exclusionary practices certainly merit a stronger response, myopically focusing on restrictive suburban zoning distracts from an equally pressing problem – the lack of residential investment in Gateway Cities.
The commonwealth’s regional urban centers desperately want to contribute more housing, but the cost and complexity of urban infill and adaptive reuse projects makes residential development in Gateway Cities exceedingly difficult to finance. Both the Patrick and the Baker administrations deserve recognition for diligent campaigns to draw investment to Gateway Cities, however it is also critical to acknowledge that their efforts failed to stimulate the housing production we need from these communities.The state’s 26 Gateway Cities combined permitted nearly 30,000 new housing units between 2001 and 2010. This total is not much to celebrate, but it is far better than the 16,000 units that Gateway Cities permitted between 2011 and 2020. The 46 percent decline in Gateway City housing production in the 2010s as compared to the 2000s explains the entire 8 percent drop in the statewide count.