Massachusetts has a plan to increase affordable housing — now it needs the budget

Gateway City mayors and managers' opinion piece in the Boston Globe

The Housing Development Incentive Program is a powerful tool to jump-start additional housing development that contains a mix of market-rate and affordable units based on project agreements negotiated by local government.

With families scrambling for homes and prices at record levels, one might wonder why Massachusetts continues to produce just a fraction of the housing that was built in past decades.

Suburban regulatory barriers own much of the blame but are just part of the problem. While the Gateway Cities that we represent welcome development, land and construction costs have skyrocketed even faster than rents have increased.

Numerous properties in our downtowns and residential neighborhoods continue to sit idle. These empty lots, abandoned businesses, and half-empty office buildings are especially costly to redevelop. It could be environmental contamination, lack of parking, or a quirky older building that is difficult — and cost prohibitive — to reconfigure. In many cases, convoluted transactions have clouded the chain of ownership, requiring years of costly legal proceedings to resolve. Properties may sit for decades in a state of decay, deterring private investment in buildings that would otherwise represent strong candidates for redevelopment.

Fortunately, Massachusetts has a spectacularly successful state program to overcome these obstacles: the Housing Development Incentive Program, which provides a small subsidy to close financing gaps and make redevelopment projects viable.

Meet The Author

Our sponsors