- 2012 Housing Report Card
- 2011 Housing Report Card
- Chapter 40B: Is there an Adverse Impact on Home Values and Family Income?
- 2010 Housing Report Card
- 2009 Housing Report Card
- The Urban Experience
- 2008 Housing Report Card
- 2006 Housing Report Card
- Sustaining the Mass Economy
- Urban Sprawl: A Comprehensive Reference Guide
- The Greater Boston Housing Guide
- 2004 Housing Report Card
- Weston Housing Survey
- Chapter 40R Report
- 2003 Housing Report Card
- University/Community Housing Partnership Study
- Building Our Heritage
- 2002 Housing Report Card
- CEOs for Cities
- Telecom City Housing Impact Study
- A New Paradigm in Housing
- World Class Housing Collaborative
By Barry Bluestone, Chase Billingham, Eleanor White, Marvin Siflinger, Tim Davis, Tim Reardon
with assistance from Noah Hodgetts and Jim Huessy
Edited by Mary Jo Meisner
Our latest report marks the 10th anniversary of the annual Greater Boston Housing Report Card. Each year since 2002, we have probed Greater Boston’s housing landscape, keeping tabs on housing construction, home prices and rents. We have analyzed the relationship between the region’s economy, demography and housing, and we have kept track of federal, state and local government policies that affect the region’s housing market. Year by year, we have reported on this vital sector of the region’s economy, based on the belief that providing decent housing for all at prices they can afford is not only a moral responsibility, but an economic necessity if the region is to retain its talent pool.
This 2012 Greater Boston Housing Report Card is dedicated to understanding a new period in the region’s housing market and what it will take to meet the goal of affordable housing for all who need it. There are now even stronger signs than we saw in 2010 that the housing market is recovering. We may be at a new point in the housing cycle where housing demand—both in the homeowner market and in the rental market—will begin once again to outstrip supply, particularly given the lack of production since 2005, falling vacancy rates, and a stronger economy that is attracting new workers to the region.
But the changes we discern in demographics and consumer behavior require a new housing paradigm because the challenge we face is more than just the sheer amount of housing production. Fundamental structural changes in the age composition of the region’s population; in the income, wealth, and debt distribution of the region’s households; and in generational differences in consumer behavior will almost certainly alter the types of housing we will need over the next decade, as well as the places within the region where that housing will need to be located. If developers, communities, and state and local government respond proactively to these underlying changes, we will be in a better position to fulfill the moral responsibility of providing affordable housing to all who need it. Moreover, we will better meet the economic necessity of lowering the housing cost hurdles that make it difficult for young households to remain in Greater Boston, while simultaneously lowering the cost barrier to those who would like the opportunity to move here.
Before considering what this new paradigm would entail, it is helpful to examine what has happened in the region’s housing market over the past year. We see signs of recovery in the housing market along all of the standard measures we have tracked—sales, prices, rents, permits and foreclosures. Whether this is leading to a return to the normal patterns that have prevailed in past decades or, alternatively, whether it signals a major transformation of the Greater Boston housing market is the big question this time around.
By Barry Bluestone and Chase Billingham
with Liz Williams, Yingchan Zhang, Tim Davis, Aaron Gornstein, Marvin Siflinger, Ann Verrilli, and Eleanor White
One of the major conclusions of this year’s report card is that Massachusetts and Greater Boston are not immune to the forces that are negatively affecting the nation’s economy as a whole. In fact, the leading economists we rely on for economic forecasts are concerned that we are in for some rough times ahead.
The analysis in these pages also concludes that until we solve the housing crisis, the larger economic crisis impacting our state, region and country will not begin to abate That is, in fact, the primary conclusion of this year’s report card—and clearly it is the indicator we should follow as we move forward. So, the signals for an end to our housing and larger economic woes are mixed.
By Jessica Casey
Ever since it was introduced in 1969, Chapter 40B has been used to encourage the production of affordable housing in Massachusetts. Now, for the first time in 41-years, Chapter 40B will be up for repeal on this year’s November state ballot. Some voters in Massachusetts may be motivated to support the repeal of 40B because they have been led to believe that an increase in affordable housing units imposes adverse effects on local neighborhoods. To test this assertion, we developed a statistical analysis which looks at whether communities with 40B developments have been harmed in terms of changes in their property values and family incomes.
Based on the results, there is no reason to believe that the presence of one or more Chapter 40B projects in a community has any impact on either home value appreciation or family income. The increase in both property value and family income was not statistically lower for communities with Chapter 40B developments – and, if anything – a bit higher. The development of Chapter 40B housing units has not harmed property values or family incomes in the Commonwealth.
By Barry Bluestone, Chase Billingham, Jessica Casey, andAnna Gartsman
with Eleanor White and Tim Davis
The 2010 report card focused on the continuing foreclosure crisis, the rental market, and student housing.
By Barry Bluestone, Chase Billingham and Jessica Herrmann
This marks the seventh annual housing report card prepared by the Dukakis Center staff in cooperation with The Boston Foundation and with the Citizens Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA). This year’s housing report card, The Greater Boston Housing Report Card 2009: Positioning Boston in a Post-Crisis World, moved beyond the content of our previous publications and focused additional attention on the foreclosure crisis and its impact on housing affordability in the Commonwealth.
The Urban Experience provides a fresh approach to the study of metropolitan areas by combining economic principles, social insight, and political realities with an appreciation of public policy to understand how U.S. cities and suburbs function in the 21st century. The book is grounded in the real life experiences of students and their families on the premise that there is a fascination about one’s own surroundings. It uses a great deal of historical and comparative data to explore the wide variation in how we experience urban and suburban communities. It addresses the changing role and function of U.S. metropolitan areas in an age of growing global competition and focuses on key contemporary problems facing cities and suburbs. The book introduces analyses from economics, sociology, and political science as useful tools to understand the evolution and current status of the nation’s urban areas.
The book will be a valuable text for urban scholars, public officials, and all those interested in understanding urban dynamics.
By Barry Bluestone, Chase Billingham, and Tim Davis
with Marc Horne, Lauren Nicoll and David Streim
Before an audience of over 200 at the The Boston Foundation on October 28, The Dukakis Center’s 2008 Greater Boston Housing Report card was released. This marks the sixth annual housing report card prepared by the Dukakis Center staff in cooperation with the foundation and with the Citizens Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA). The 2008 report not only kept track of trends in housing production, prices, rents, affordability, and housing policy, but given the dramatic increases in foreclosure activity in the region, provided an understanding of what lead author Barry Bluestone calls the region’s “Housing Paradox” – housing prices and rents still too high, AND falling too fast.
By Bonnie Heudorfer and Barry Bluestone
On September 27, 2006 The Dukakis Center Director Barry Bluestone and Senior Research Fellow Bonnie Heudorfer presented “The Greater Boston Housing Report Card” 2005-2006 to community and business leaders at a forum hosted by the Boston Foundation. This was the fourth such annual report that The Dukakis Center prepared for the Boston Foundation and Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA). The Report Card is a diagnostic tool that provides an annual assessment of the region’s progress toward providing housing opportunities for all of its citizens. It focuses on housing production in 161 cities and towns including and surrounding Boston and examines trends in housing prices and rents, the preservation of affordable housing, and state and federal funding levels for subsidized housing.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s New England Public Policy Center and The Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government hosted the release of “Housing and the Economy: Trends, Impacts, and Potential Responses” on May 22, 2006 in Boston.
According to the report’s findings, employment dropped by over 160,000 since 2001; the population has fallen for the past two years in a row, mostly as a result of rapidly rising out-migration to places like New Hampshire, Arizona, and North Carolina; and the loss of population was disproportionately among young workers and their families. We also know that housing prices skyrocketed by 144 percent in Greater Boston between 1995 and 2004 so that the median single family home sold for $376,000 at the end of this period. Meanwhile, Class A apartment rents in the Boston metro region were the most expensive in the country, save those in New York City. Price and rents have stabilized in the past two years, but they remain among the highest in the country.
“This report attempts to use statistical methods to test whether or not this conjecture about the adverse economic development effects of housing costs is valid and whether the survey responses of former state residents represent a real trend”, according to Director Barry Bluestone.
Urban sprawl has created a way-of-life in the United States that is becoming less and less sustainable, but our country is uniquely positioned to respond to the challenges of sprawl, according to CURP Associate Director David Soule. Urban Sprawl: A Comprehensive Reference Guide, offers a dynamic group of perspectives that explore these challenges, addressing sprawl as a legal question, a political issue, and a social problem.
“The Greater Boston Housing Challenge” is a PowerPoint presentation on the economic and demographic challenges facing Greater Boston and the Commonwealth with particular reference to the housing crisis. The presentation was given at a WBZ business breakfast titled “Attaining the American Dream” on October 27, 2005 by Dukakis Center Director Barry Bluestone.
By Bonnie Heudorfer and Barry Bluestone
“The Greater Boston Housing Report Card 2004″ was the third in a series of annual assessments designed to measure the progress the region is making toward providing housing opportunities for all of its citizens. This report, like its predecessors, has been prepared by the Kitty and Michael The Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy in collaboration with The Boston Foundation and Citizens Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA).
In 2004, for the second year in a row, the region made modest progress toward increasing the production of housing. However, total production remains below what is ultimately needed to bring housing costs into line with household incomes. Moreover, the types of housing being produced — age-restricted housing, luxury condominiums and rentals, and single family housing for affluent households — do not address the shortage of moderately priced housing suitable to attract and retain a young workforce. Thus, much more is required to reduce barriers to housing production and to support the construction and preservation of housing that will contribute to the state’s economic competitiveness.
Under a research grant from the Town of Weston, the Dukakis Center conducted a mail survey of all town employees in Weston and all METCO parents in the Weston School district in order to ascertain the extent to which there is a desire among employees and school parents to live in the Town of Weston, if affordable housing were made available.
As enacted in 2005, Chapter 40R is unlikely to result in appreciable progress toward the construction of sufficient new housing to moderate the excessive home price inflation that has characterized Massachusetts for over 20 years. This report — researched and written by Ted Carman, President of Concord Square Development Company along with Eleanor White, President of Housing Partners, Inc., and Barry Bluestone, Director of the Dukakis Center — recommends that the provisions of Chapter 70 be amended to provide for a Smart Growth School Cost Insurance Supplement to be paid to communities which pass Chapter 40R Smart Growth Districts. It has provided the basis for another new law, Chapter 40S.
By Bonnie Heudorfer, Barry Bluestone, and Stein Helmrich
The Dukakis Center’s second annual Greater Boston Housing Report Card followed up where the 2002 Report Card left off. The Dukakis Center Senior Research Associate Bonnie Heudorfer, Director Barry Bluestone, and Research Associate Stein Helmrich led the research on the project, which was done in collaboration with The Boston Foundation and the Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA).
This report evaluated how the Greater Boston housing market performed during 2003. It looked specifically at:
- economic and demographic changes in the region
- new housing
- rent, home prices, and housing affordability
- affordable housing production
- state and federal funding
- goals for new housing
With thanks to a research grant from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Dukakis Center prepared a report that reviews university/community partnerships designed to help produce housing for students, university employees, and city residents. Such examples as Davenport Commons at Northeastern are highlighted in the project.
This report was developed at The Dukakis Center for the Commonwealth Housing Task Force, an ad hoc group of housing advocates, developers, business and civic leaders, and academics who began meeting in 2001 to develop solutions to the housing problem in Massachusetts. In this report, the Task Force made two recommendations:
- The state should provide financial and other incentives to local communities that pass Smart Growth Overlay Zoning Districts that allow the building of single-family homes on smaller lots and the construction of apartments for families at all income levels.
- The state should increase its commitment to fund affordable housing for families of low and moderate income.
Barry Bluestone, director of the Dukakis Center, worked with Eleanor White, a Research Associate at the Dukakis Center and president of Housing Partners, Inc. and Ted Carman, president of the Concord Square Development Company, Inc., to craft this proposal. This team, along with many others from the business, academic, and non-profit world, presented the proposal to the Massachusetts State Legislature’s Housing Committees in late November. The proposal was passed into law in 2004.
In October 2002, The Dukakis Center released its first Greater Boston Housing Report Card to an audience of more than 200 planners, community activists, government officials and developers gathered at the Boston Foundation. A breakdown of the report, which was created through the collaboration of The Dukakis Center, the Boston Indicators Project at the Boston Foundation, and Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA), was presented by The Dukakis Center Director, Barry Bluestone, and followed up by a panel discussion moderated by Tom Hollister, chairman of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce and president of Citizens Bank of Massachusetts. In addition to Bluestone, three The Dukakis Center staff members also worked on the project: Ryan Allen, Bonnie Huedorfer, and Gretchen Weismann.
The Dukakis Center and the Great Cities Institute at the University of Illinois at Chicago were commissioned by CEOs for Cities, a national bipartisan organization, to work on a project titled, “The New Metropolitan Alliances: Regional Collaboration for Economic Development.” After exploring more than 100 examples of development-focused alliances throughout the country, the team selected five cases to illustrate the key ingredients in the formation of regional alliances.
The Dukakis Center released the Telecom City Housing Impact Study, a report that highlighted 5,000-7,500 additional new jobs in high tech industry on its 207-acre site in Everett, Malden, and Medford, just north of Boston. During the study time frame, the Mystic Valley Development Commission contracted with the Dukakis Center to conduct a comprehensive analysis of how the newly created jobs would impact the housing market in the area.
The housing crisis in Greater Boston was reaching epic proportions with no end in site in December of 1999 when Cardinal Bernard Law issued his challenge encouraging policymakers to work together to develop a “new paradigm” for housing in Greater Boston. The Cardinal asked CURP to prepare a detailed report that could lead the way in responding to the housing crisis by bringing together a large task force of Boston community leaders, housing experts, government officials, business executives, and concerned citizens. The result of this massive collaboration was “A New Paradigm for Housing in Greater Boston.” This report blew the lid off the old ways of thinking about housing and brought forth new ideas for how to increase the region’s housing stock to meet demand and moderate market prices. Using methods developed at CURP, the report identified the need for constructing 36,000 additional new units of housing in Greater Boston over the next five years.
CURP not only detailed what kind of new units of housing would be required but created a plan devising how the new housing units could be built by a collaboration of private developers, government agencies, community and civic groups, businesses, and universities. The plan details how each group can contribute to meeting the region’s housing goals by overcoming the social, political, and economic barriers to the production of owner-occupied and rental housing. The highly regarded and well-publicized Cardinal’s Report has helped to galvanize development in Boston and throughout the region.
The report was the centerpiece for the Cardinal’s conference on housing in September 2000 attended by over 300 community, business, and government leaders including the Massachusetts Governor, representatives of the Boston Mayor’s office, and members of the State Legislature. Later in the year, the report was presented by CURP director Barry Bluestone and Cardinal Law before the entire Massachusetts Congressional delegation in Washington, D.C. The final version of the report was completed in February 2001.
The Dukakis Center’s World Class Housing Collaborative was created to help meet the needs for new housing in Greater Boston by offering pro bono expert assistance to neighborhood residents who are looking to turn their community dreams into realities. Combining the resources and expertise of individual housing experts and community organizations in the Greater Boston area, the World Class Housing Collaborative provides a distinct perspective on housing in Massachusetts.