Cyrus Tehrani

Pro-new housing is pro-affordable housing

Cyrus Tehrani
Pro-new housing is pro-affordable housing

In Boston, supporting new housing means supporting affordable housing.

By definition, large new developments increase the volume of market-rate units in a city's housing supply. In Boston; however, large new developments must include income-restricted units for low- to moderate-income households.

The Inclusionary Development Policy (IDP) is meant to create affordable housing within all new construction projects that consist of 10 or more units. The policy mandates that 13% of on-site units are designated for low- to middle-income earners.

Developers also have the choice to pay the equivalent of 15% of their development's total-units value to the city’s IDP fund. This money is used to build affordable housing for low- to middle-income earners. (These units are regulated by income and each project has unique income qualifications for their “IDP” units.)

In August, 2017, the city released its first report on the progress made by changes to the Inclusionary Development Policy three years ago. Some highlights provided by the Boston Planning and Development Agency include:

  • 2016 was a record year, with $23.7 million paid to the IDP Fund, representing 24 percent of all payments made since the inception of the program in 2000. In addition, $42.8 million in new funds were committed to the fund in connection with 2016 BPDA Board approved projects.

  • 1,737 on-site and off-site units have been created by the IDP since 2000, of which 229 (13 percent of the total) were completed during 2016. A substantial number of new IDP units are anticipated to be completed over the next few years. 746 units are under construction or have been permitted, and there are 656 units that are in projects that have been approved by the BPDA, but have not yet pulled a building permit.

  • In addition to these on-site and off-site units, developers have contributed over $96 million to the IDP Fund, which, when combined with other affordable housing resources, has supported the completion of 1,070 additional units of housing, affordable to very low-, low-, and moderate-income households.

  • 47 percent of the units completed with IDP funds have a maximum income of 60 percent of Area Median Income ($49,650 for a household of two), while 18 percent of the units have a maximum income of 30 percent of AMI ($24,800 for a household of two). The provision of units at this very low income helps to meet Mayor Walsh’s goal of addressing homelessness, as many of these very low income units are tied to a preference for individuals and families experiencing homelessness.

It’s important to note that none of these units gets built without new development. Supporting new development means supporting the creation of affordable housing units. Units that would never have existed without developers’ investments into Boston communities.