Boston to try easing housing crunch by making it easier to add mother-in-law units

The BPDA board yesterday approved a test to make it easier for homeowners to add a single apartment in three neighborhoods - in a program that will include zero-percent city loans of up to $30,000 for any required modifications.

Under the "Additional Dwelling Units" pilot, homeowners who live in their own homes in Jamaica Plain, Mattapan and East Boston will be able to outfit and rent a single "smaller, independent rental unit" that includes a bathroom and kitchen area.

Under the pilot program, an ADU shall be an allowed use where it may be otherwise conditional or forbidden provided that it is the addition of no more than one dwelling unit to the existing structure, and will be exempt from all provisions of the Boston Zoning Code, provided that the ADU does not involve any bump out, extension or construction to the existing envelope of the structure which results in the addition of Gross Floor Area.

The BPDA hopes to find out if such units could increase the affordable-housing stock in Boston by letting owners of larger homes rent some of their space.

In addition to the BPDA, the Mayor’s Housing Innovation Lab at the Department of Neighborhood Development and ISD are also involved in the program. If the city Zoning Commission approves the plan at a meeting next month, the city would launch the program within a few months.

Neighborhoods: 

Topics: 

Free tagging: 

Comments

If this doesn't prove

How completely useless government is at this point, then I don't know what will. I couldn't fabricate a fictional reason that's any more salient than this.

The BPDA hopes to find out if such units could increase the affordable-housing stock in Boston by letting owners of larger homes rent some of their space.

Uh, what stops them from doing that now? Thank you, benevolent crown, for telling everybody what they can do with their property.

Also, how does this help the housing crunch at all? There's barely an incentive for the homeowner to rent to anybody in the first place. They already own the house. There's no landlord to kick them out for not making rent because they couldn't find a roommate.

Also, $30,000 interest-free loans? How about giving me a tax refund instead if you have that much working capital to lend out to people to play Ty Pennington?

It's a shame we don't contest elections on issues anymore, I'll blindly vote for the first guy (or gal) who straight up tells me "I want to rewrite the tax code so that it no longer favors homeowners and people with kids."

what?

Basically every municipality in the country tells all their property owners what they can do with their property. It's called zoning. This is a relaxation of the zoning code, so... it's good. It helps the housing crunch by generating more housing units.

Because you brought it up for some reason, it's also fine that the tax code favors people with kids. Kids are expensive.

Zoning

That's maybe helpful for keeping a nuclear waste site away from a children's museum. I sure as hell don't want government telling me after I've bought a house who can live in it.

And you're right, kids are expensive. Wait and see how expensive they'll really be in 20 years when they can't get jobs. Good thing our President sees fit to make it harder to get affordable birth control into the hands of women.

So we agree on principle, just disagree on scope?

That's maybe helpful for keeping a nuclear waste site away from a children's museum

So we agree that there's at least some legitimacy in restricting land use.

If you can regulate the nuclear waste site, maybe you can also keep a noisy, smelly factory away from an old folks' home?

And if you can regulate the noisy, smelly factory, maybe you can keep a 5000 seat concert venue away from a quiet residential side street?

And if you can regulate the concert venue, maybe you can stop one of the homeowners on the street of single family houses from putting up a 30-unit apartment building.

And if you can regulate apartment buildings.....

Thank you for saliently

By on

Thank you for saliently explaining the "slippery slope" of allowing the government to regulate anything that goes on on private property.

Kids

By on

Kids are going to fund your social security checks.

What?

By on

Wow, so lets see...

Uh, what stops them from doing that now? Thank you, benevolent crown, for telling everybody what they can do with their property.

Zoning law (which exist pretty much everywhere). Zoning is generally a reflection of actual residents in an area and what they want to develop.

Also, how does this help the housing crunch at all?

It literally adds more housing stock? More supply the better (as has already been seen in the last quarters as rents have actually stabilized as more and more new units have come on line).

They already own the house. There's no landlord to kick them out for not making rent because they couldn't find a roommate.

I mean seriously, what? You realize that most people have mortgages, right? And if you don't pay that then the real landlord (your bank) straight up seizes your shit, kicks you out, and ruins your credit for 7 years. Boohoo to renters who have basically no skin in the game. Even if one has fully paid off their house, they still have thousands in property tax a year, insurance, etc - I wouldn't turn down extra income.

Also, $30,000 interest-free loans? How about giving me a tax refund instead if you have that much working capital to lend out to people to play Ty Pennington?

Almost agree with you here - but, really, I don't see huge problems with the government giving interest free loans, especially on things like trying to control housing costs.

It's a shame we don't contest elections on issues anymore, I'll blindly vote for the first guy (or gal) who straight up tells me "I want to rewrite the tax code so that it no longer favors homeowners and people with kids.

Why not? Having kids is an important thing to country and its long term growth prospects and its ability to survive. Incentivizing home ownership and people to actually put down long lasting roots in a neighborhood is also a pretty desirably thing to do, too.

Yeah, extra money is hardly an incentive

By on

There's barely an incentive for the homeowner to rent to anybody in the first place. They already own the house. There's no landlord to kick them out for not making rent because they couldn't find a roommate.

You'd be surprised to learn that many (most?) people who own their homes could also use $800 or $1000 extra each month.

Additional restrictions

By on

Sounds like a recipe made by Air BnB. Hopefully big penalties for short term rentals which won't help the housing situation.

And $30k free loans - can I get me one of those? The taxpayers are subsidizing landlords making extra money.

Good idea - but some weird details in the administration.

Then build a room and rent it

Government need not be involved in that transaction at all. Pay for it your (expletive) self. I have no sympathy for homeowners. Congratulations, you outbid other humans for shelter. You want a cookie? How about an interest-free loan that's being financed with my tax dollars?

It's delicious

By on

You want a cookie?

I've got a "cookie". I control my own home environment and can make it just the way I want it. I derive a great deal of pleasure from having a home that satisfies me in so many ways that a rental unit would not. That's my "cookie".

And, BTW it's not all take, take, take. As a homeowner, I'm happy to pay the city thousands and thousands of dollars each year in property taxes to cover my share of city services. How much do renters directly pay for their share of city services?

Your argument is invalid

By on

I'd say given the cost to rent in the city, renters are paying plenty of money towards their share of city services via their landlord's property taxes. Those taxes the renters are paying via rent are generally much higher than yours since most landlords aren't owner occupants qualifying for the residential exemption. So that's a ridiculous argument to make that a renter is somehow "less than" a homeowner simply due to whose name is on the property tax bill.

I think your basis of your

I think your basis of your arguments is unfairness towards renters and on libertarian principles. I want to point out that at least this program seems to be based around "small homeowners". Yes, they are more "well-off" than renters (in this context), but this is not like tax breaks to the 1% here.

For the stuff of government interventions in trying to hold down rising housing costs, this is one of the one I'm less inclined to rage. Yes, your landlord (the lives on the property types), gets a boost of being able to get a $30,000 interest free loan to build space to get more money while you, as a renter don't. But at least it's a boost to small landlords that you actually see their face.. This tactic enrich a much larger number of people (small landlords and small contractors) rather than a few large developers to increasing supply (which would enrich a few CEOs).

"provided that the ADU does

By on

"provided that the ADU does not involve any bump out, extension or construction to the existing envelope of the structure which results in the addition of Gross Floor Area."

I guess if you're buying a 2 million dollar untouched queen anne mansion in an outer neighborhood that has space to spare and still has it's original servants staircase (because it needs a separate means of entrance), that works.

Most single families in JP are pretty small to start with.

FWIW I toured a barely

By on

FWIW I toured a barely touched Queen Anne in Brighton for $830,000 this week with both sets of stairs. You need have 2mil.

This could take places that have converted garages for example and make them studio apartments.

Having seen some really stupidly cut houses, this also would allow people to legitimize already existing Illegal basements for example as well.

Most basement units are

By on

Most basement units are illegal due egress issues - the people we bought our condo from were using the basement as an illegal studio and trying to use it as a selling point - only had one exit (into shared basement) and small windows, so we put the kibosh on that. If the law doesn't allow for any external envelope alterations, you can't add extra steps / staircases / etc needed to meet safety code.

What?

By on

Who in their right mind would want their mother-in-law living on the same piece of property??
I'll sell out and move to Des Moines before I let that happen.

That's your problem

Not everyone has adversarial relationships because their culture tells them to do so.

Not everyone has the money to pay for a separate residence plus hired help to make that work.

If I were to move my MIL in, I would want her to have her own space for her own sanity. Other cities should adopt this and make it possible. This would also allow me to put in a second kitchen downstairs for my son to have his own studio apartment. That works for the new economic order, too.

Oh, no

Thank god my mother in law doesn't read the internet!

lollll

Cost / benefit?

By on

How many actual units / bedrooms is this expected to add? And how much is it expected to cost the City?

Given that they are given loans...

By on

One would expect the money to be repaid. Obviously if its interest free then it would be the loan amount minus inflation costs over the life of the loan, I suppose.

Three ways this doesn't sit right

By on

One is to restrict to only large homes that can be carved up. Excluding properties that have the space to bump out or extend the building envelope to include a small apartment makes the program one which favors anyone who can afford a large home. Anyone with property where they have enough land to add a small apartment should be able to, provided safety, fire and any other regulations that maintains a safe environment are respected.

Two, who is providing the $30,000 interest free loans? BPDA through the money developers bribe, I mean pay them? If that's the case then so long as tax payers are not stuck with supporting and eating any loans which default then perhaps there is no issue. But if the money comes out of property tax then that is wrong.

Three, will anyone who carves out a new apartment pay the full tax bill on that apartment? In other words will the units be taxed separately and without an exemption? If owners of large homes are to make extra money then it's unjust if that money is not taxed as any other rental unit is taxed. Renters pay the full tax since the residential exemption is not applied to rental units. If these small units are exempted then that is unfair to the majority of renters (and to tax payers in general).

Given that the BPDA, formerly known as BRA, tends to treat city residents with contempt (when they somehow loose important documents) I am suspicious of anything idea that comes out of a government agency that is not elected and yet can steal anyone's home by eminent domain with impunity.

if there is no provisions for parking

By on

it will only make parking more difficult in the City. The City should make it easier to create offstreet parking by allowing parking in all the yard space available. Getting a change of use for parking should not cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Most people around here are

By on

Most people around here are anti parking but I actually agree. The city should enable people to easily move their cars onto their own property, allowing for private storage of private property and freeing up our public streets for use by public transportation, etc.

This is discriminatory

By on

Why doesn't the City allow this zoning change in all sections of the City? Why not build or force developers to build more affordable housing in the Seaport District?

Two words

By on

Pilot. Program.

You do know what that means, don't you?

adu

By on

this is a good policy w worthy objectives. however, it will get very few takers. not eligible: garages, carriage houses, additions, dormers (i believe). those represent the lion's share of the opportunities to add an adu. how many attic or basement apts will meet code for window size and egress? very few. who will chop up their house to add egress stairs, kitchen, bath when they can airbnb w zero construction costs? it will cost $100k+, not $30k to create such an apt.

if it's a good idea, eliminate the restrictions. if not, don't bother.