MAYOR WALSH SET TO ANNOUNCE MIDDLE INCOME HOUSING INNOVATION PRIORITIES
Housing Innovation Lab Unveils Pilot Programs to Improve Middle Income Housing Affordability
BOSTON - Tuesday, March 8, 2016 - During his annual speech before the Boston Municipal Research Bureau, Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced that the Mayor's Housing Innovation Lab is ready to launch new solutions for driving down the cost to build, buy, and own middle-income housing in the City of Boston. The Mayor's housing plan, Housing a Changing City: Boston 2030, identified the need for creation of 20,000 units of middle-income housing by 2030. In 2015, Boston made progress towards this goal, permitting 4,194 middle-income units.
With the help of community members and housing experts, the members of the Mayor's Housing Innovation Lab have spent six months identifying prospective solutions to meet the goals of the Mayor's housing plan and to keep Boston affordable for middle income households. Through a process including more than 100 one-on-one meetings; 25 large-scale community engagements; and conversations about best practices with 15 cities, four pilot programs have emerged as holding the highest potential to enhance the creation and sustainability of middle income housing in Boston.
"Solving the middle income housing challenge is among the biggest challenges we face today," said Mayor Walsh. "The Housing Innovation Lab is bringing a new way of thinking about these issues to the City, and I'm appreciative of the time and energy that they have put into this work. Being able to test new approaches to this issue before solidifying them in policy is a unique approach, and one that we will continue to use to solve new challenges as well."
The pilot programs will launch over the next three months and wrap up within 12 months. The Housing Innovation Lab will partner with internal City departments, external advocates, academic institutions, and entrepreneurs to deploy these trial experiments, all of which target a specific policy, geographical area, or existing, yet inefficient, process. The new pilot programs will enable policy makers to measure the real-world success or failure of each potential solution over the coming year, in order to determine if the measure should be scaled or institutionalized city-wide. The pilots will include:
Density Bonus Policy: Reduce the cost to build by establishing new policy in Strategic Planning Areas to incentivize developers to build more affordable units by allowing additional density.
Compact Living: Reduce the cost to build by using City-owned land to launch a Housing Innovation Competition, focused on compact living, to inspire architects and developers to build homes that are well designed, efficient, and affordable.
Community Land Trusts: Reduce the cost to buy and own housing by creating a technical assistance program to help communities set up land trusts for housing preservation, in collaboration with the emerging Greater Boston Community Land Trust Network.
Home Buying Portal: Reduce the cost of buying a home by working with Cambridge Financial technology to create a new home buying portal, which will lower the cost and difficulty of finding, buying, and owning home in Boston by providing personalized information about resources for first time homebuyers onto a single platform.
This Spring, the Housing Innovation Lab and their partners will host a launch event for these initiatives. Attendees will have the opportunity to tour a compact unit, build models of density bonus developments, participate in user experience testing of the Home Buying Portal or learn how to support community land trusts in their neighborhood.
The Mayor's Housing Innovation Lab is a collaboration between the Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics and the Department of Neighborhood Development and is funded by a Bloomberg Philanthropies innovation team grant.