By Sharon O’Malley | constructiondive.com | July 15, 2015 Dive Brief: A Boston law requiring developers to make room for moderate-income residents in new condominium and apartment buildings “does virtually nothing to solve the housing crisis,” according to Northeastern University. So Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is reconsidering a city policy that sets aside 13% of […]
The agency charged with overseeing the real estate boom coursing through Boston is a dysfunctional bureaucracy, its system for reviewing projects erratic, with just a few powerful staffers deciding how new buildings will look using “unwritten rules,” according to a highly critical audit being released by City Hall Thursday.
The Boston policy requiring developers to accommodate lower-income residents in even the most expensive buildings is being scrutinized as cities struggle to provide affordable housing. Helping affordable-housing lottery winners live in swanky digs limits the construction of properties elsewhere that can accommodate more people, said Barry Bluestone, an economist and founding director of Northeastern University’s Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy. “It’s a nice gesture but it does virtually nothing to solve the housing crisis,” said Dr. Bluestone. “There are a lot of areas where it would be cheaper to build middle-income housing.”
Rents are rising, and the working poor are spending more each month on housing, forcing tough choices between shelter and essentials, such as food and medicine. While local programs offer some assistance, the federal government has no appetite for addressing the crisis in affordable housing, and experts say without a coordinated national effort, the crisis will deepen.
Renting has long been a temporary step toward home ownership or a permanent part of living on a tight budget.When people would sit down to work out a budget, devoting 25 percent or 30 percent of monthly income to rent was the “affordable” part of still paying the other bills and maybe saving a bit. But that calculation no longer works for millions of people.