Special to the Times-Free Press
At the December 8, Boston City Council meeting, lead sponsors Councilors Kendra Lara, Ruthzee Louijeune, and Liz Breadon introduced a resolution calling for immediate action to improve the Inclusionary Development Policy (IDP) to remedy Boston’s affordable housing crisis.
Several councilors signed on to support the resolution: Councilors Arroyo, Bok, Coletta, Fernandes Anderson, Flaherty, Mejia, Murphy, and Flynn; and the resolution passed unanimously.
The resolution asks for two immediate changes to IDP:
1. Lower the 10-unit threshold so that new construction of 5-9 unit buildings are included; and
2. Decrease the income limit for rental units from 70% AMI to an average of 40% AMI, and decrease the limit for ownership units from 80-100% AMI to 50-100% AMI, so that the IDP units are truly affordable.
The Mayor’s Office of Housing and Boston Planning and Development Agency hired a consultant to complete a feasibility study, which will inform an overhaul of IDP, and codify the policy in Boston’s Zoning Code (currently IDP exists as an executive order). CTAB and Boston City Council are asking for Mayor Wu to make immediate changes with an updated executive order while the study is completed and an updated policy is formed. It could take until next summer for a policy overhaul; meanwhile, development continues at breakneck speed. Without immediate changes to IDP, Boston’s residents will continue to miss out on opportunities for affordable housing.
The Coalition for a Truly Affordable Boston (CTAB) has advocated for updates to IDP since 2017. That advocacy has included: organizing to pass a state law that gives the City of Boston more flexibility to reform IDP and to add it to the Boston zoning code; delivering 1000+ postcards to the Mayor and other City officials; and testifying at City Council hearings and meetings about the need for increased IDP.
“This resolution is ultimately a call to action to the administration… we’re a year in, and we haven’t received an updated timeline to the reform for the Inclusionary Development Policy from the administration” said Councilor Kendra Lara at the Boston City Council meeting.
“We see evictions are increasing, income inequality is an issue, of course, and we have people day in and day out moving out of the city because it is too expensive. And so this is one of the tools that we have squarely within our toolbox as a City to try to help affordability” added Councilor Ruthzee Louijeune at the Boston City Council meeting.
In this housing crisis, we have an urgent need to use all tools available to increase the stock of affordable housing across the city. We are proud of the city using public land for public good in requiring deeply affordable rental housing on public land in Roxbury’s Nubian Square. We need changes to IDP policy to create more affordable housing city wide in new developments- as soon as possible.” says Armani White Reclaim Roxbury Executive Director. Reclaim Roxbury is a founding member of the Coalition for Truly affordable housing.
“Luxury developments have been pricing low income, Black, Brown and BIPOC communities out of Boston neighborhoods for a long time. Thank you City Councilors for unanimously passing a resolution urging the Wu administration to strengthen the Inclusionary Development Policy. Truly affordable standards for IDP are long overdue and we hope the Wu administration will act quickly to lower the threshold of units to trigger inclusionary development and deepen the AMIs for rental and home ownership units. We look forward to continuing our relationship with the Mayor and her housing team to build affordable housing to meet the need for Bostonians today.” said Markeisha Moore, organizer with Dorchester Not For Sale.
The Coalition for a Truly Affordable Boston (CTAB) has identified the following ways to strengthen the IDP, to benefit those most impacted by racism and the displacement crisis.
1. Increase the affordability requirement to one-third. The City must increase the percentage, so that 33% (or one-third) of units are affordable.
2. Deepen the affordability of the affordable units. Rental units should be affordable at an average of 40% AMI, within a range of 30% to 70% AMI. Ownership units (condos) should be affordable at a range of 50% to 100% AMI.
3. Lower the 10-unit threshold. Right now developers only have to build affordable units if their development is 10 units or larger. Many developers have built multiple 9-unit projects to get around the affordability requirement.
4. Ensure that affordable units are permanently affordable. Right now affordable units stay affordable for 5 years.
5 Increase the number of family-sized units. 80% of IDP units should be 2, 3, and 4+ bedrooms.
The Coalition for a Truly Affordable Boston is made up of over 20 housing justice organizations to advocate for a stronger Inclusionary Development Policy to build a truly affordable Boston. Coalition members include:
• Action for Equity
• Allston/Brighton CDC
• Asian American Resource Workshop
• Boston Tenant Coalition
• Chinatown Community Land Trust
• Chinese Progressive Association
• Dot Not 4 Sale
• Fenway CDC
• Greater Bowdoin Geneva Neighborhood Association
• Greater Four Corners Action Coalition
• Homes for Families
• Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council
• Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation
• Jamaica Plain Progressives
• Keep It 100 for Real Affordable Housing and Racial Justice
• Mass Affordable Housing Alliance
• Mass Alliance of HUD Tenants
• Mass Coalition for the Homeless
• Mass Senior Action Council
• New England United 4 Justice
• Project RIGHT
• Reclaim Roxbury
• Right To The City Boston
• South Boston en Acción
• Urban Edge