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Wu hires consultants to look at increasing affordable-housing requirements for new developments

The Dorchester Reporter reports Mayor Wu has hired two consultants to look at ways to bolster affordable housing and job training in Boston by increasing the number of affordable housing units new middling to large residential developments have to include.

The studies will also include looking at changing the amounts of "linkage" fees developers of commercial projects have to pay for housing and job training.

The city currently requires developers of residential projects with at least ten units to set aside 13% of them as affordable - or pay into a fund that goes to create or maintain affordable units nearby. Wu has discussed raising that percentage to as high as 20%.

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Comments

Simply will make the 80% of non-subsidized units more expensive. Continuing the trend of pushing the working class out of Boston.

To rich to qualify, to poor to afford!

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Voting closed 25

Asking why so many new developments have exactly nine units...

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Voting closed 48

Honestly, the bigger issue is the developers who flip dozens and dozens of smaller Single Family and 3/4/5/6 unit Buildings. These are destroying the fabric of the neighborhood with "Luxury Condos" that attract more affluent and transient people and displace people in more affordable/older rental housing that family focused affordable rental units.

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Voting closed 26

when people move to a new city, it’s not for jobs or family or school or cultural amenities. it’s for the brand new luxury apartments popping up!

rich people are going to be moving to boston regardless. either we built rebuild falling apart buildings and build taller on empty lots and over 1 story retail for the rich people to move into (see: seaport) or the rich people will push out the existing residents because there is nowhere to live besides the shitty triple deckers (flipped or not) and they can outbid the existing residents for sales or rent.

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Voting closed 18

"increasing the proportion of units that are income-restricted to at least 20 percent"

Sure - Let's just keep making development here less and less profitable. That will definitely encourage developers to build here. The city also needs non-luxury middle income housing, but if your development is 20% affordable, and the other 80% needs to make up for the profit loss of that 20%, then that 80% is going to be priced a lot higher. So instead of a gradient of housing from low-income to luxury, you will end up with only affordable housing and luxury housing.

“what can we extract from commercial development,” Dillon said, crucially whether the “the economic conditions of lab space” would allow the city to “extract an even higher rate.”

Ah yes, let's also target that booming industry that has positioned Boston as a worldwide leader and is a leading economic driver for the city and state.

Developers switched to lab space because Covid killed other sectors. Apartments + Condos were DOA during the height of COVID. The office market still hasn't recovered. Hospitality was dead. If they want to target the sector most responsible for propping up the construction industry around here, then they will be impacting two industries with one ill-fated move. There was a reason engineering, design, and construction firms were starting to lay people off before the lab boom took hold.

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Voting closed 49

There's no lack of developers wanting to build here. And it's been wildly profitable. These are hardly things that we're worried about, especially in comparison to lack of affordable housing which unlike your examples is not a hypothetical future problem but a very real current one.

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Oh, please. Developers are doing just fine in Boston. I for one don’t blame them for building pretty much only luxury housing since that’s what is most profitable for them even if units go unoccupied (looking at you Millennium tower!).

But building only luxury is ignoring the vast majority of Boston’s housing needs. How else do we correct the market?

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Voting closed 37

1 - How do they make money if the units go empty? If you’re referring to out of country people parking their money in real estate and never using it, that’s a win for boston. All that tax money funneling into the coffers with zero expenses.

2 - As people continue to advance in their career and make more money they move into these luxury condos/apartments freeing up their previous residence.

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Voting closed 26

The foreign-owned empty units hurt Boston. They drive up the price of housing while reducing the number of available units in an over-heated market. They also hurt those who live in those buildings and neighborhood - it's creepy living in a half-empty building and the lack of people on the streets makes them less safe, plus reduces the number of useful businesses in the neighborhood that would depend on foot traffic.

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Voting closed 41

They generate a ton of tax revenue that fund schools and public services and take nothing from the city.

As someone that lives in the city and has since I was 18, saying having less people on the streets is somehow less safe seems silly to me. I get what you’re saying, but that’s like saying wearing a short dress is asking for it.

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Voting closed 26

This statement is true "So instead of a gradient of housing from low-income to luxury, you will end up with only affordable housing and luxury housing."

Look at the rentals available in Boston, there is nothing for the middle income level. Everything new is luxury and high priced, except for those designated for income restricted. So you need to make less than around $55,000 to quality for low income, and you need to earn something like $200,000 to afford the luxury apartments. So, where can your average person making a medium income of $80,000 to $120,000 live?

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Voting closed 46

It’s possible a developer could build something between affordable and luxury, but why would they throw money out the window? It would make zero business sense until there’s a glut of luxury housing.

I lived in the Benjamin in the Seaport for a couple of years at 5k a month rent for a 1 bed/1 bath and the building was almost 95% occupied while I was there. There are a lot of people with a lot of money that are looking for housing too and developers are cashing in on it.

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Voting closed 37

You're right, having a gradient of housing from low-income to luxury is important!

That's why there are gradients of affordability *within* affordable housing too.

At boston dot gov slash metrolist slash search you can search for affordable housing with a bunch of factors, including income eligibility.

The search form starts with 0% of Area Median Income (AMI) to 200% of AMI and you can narrow it down - you can even narrow it down to 100% AMI to 200% AMI if your household income is above the median.

That's right, even some households with incomes *higher* than the median *still* can't afford market-rate housing in Boston - and Boston's affordable-housing plans do recognize that!

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Voting closed 14

Does anyone know definitively what qualifies as a "luxury condo"? Put me in the camp that believes supply not meeting demand is driving prices up. I think high market prices are the only thing I see in common among these so called luxury condos. If we just built enough they would almost magically become regular condos.

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Voting closed 31

There is some truth to this, not all of these so called luxury units are like 30 Dalton. I have found luxury means - washer/dryer in unit, central AC, dishwasher, and stainless appliances. Things you would consider standard in a single family home in the suburbs!

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Voting closed 30

Luxury = more than I pay

Corollary: Rich = more than I make

Not saying I believe those myself....

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Voting closed 23

Is just a marketing term. Does anyone really aspire to live in austerity (apart from certain religious sects)? Maybe the developers are putting in slightly higher-end finishes like flooring, countertops, fixtures, appliances, etc., but measured against the costs of construction in a market like Boston, that stuff is peanuts.

If the demand doesn't exist for a 1-bedroom unit at $5,000/month, you can't charge that.

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Voting closed 26

Guess things are about to become even more unaffordable.

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Voting closed 23

1. Build more housing.

Where's my consulting fee?

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