Boston ‘housing emergency’ prompts regional initiative for new residential construction

Mayors of 15 cities set goal of 185,000 new homes by 2030.

October 12, 2018 |

A housing shortage that one mayor called “an emergency” has spurred a regional initiative in the Boston area to build more residential units.

The mayors of 15 cities and towns close to the Bay State capitol pledged to sharply accelerate the pace of home construction. The goal is to add 185,000 new homes by 2030 in the 15 communities.

Since 2010, just 32,500 housing units have been permitted in the same municipalities, so the goal represents a pace of housing construction that is three times as fast as the region has built over this decade. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh recently increased his city’s new-housing target by 30% to 69,000 additional units by 2030.

The goal of the suburban cities and towns may be difficult to achieve because of resistance from residents worried about the effects on traffic, schools, and quality of life. A bill proposed by Gov. Charlie Baker that would have allowed communities to lower the threshold for zoning changes from a two-thirds approval vote by a local government council to a simple majority failed to get through the state legislature this year. That is an indicator of how tough it is to create new housing in the densely populated municipalities surrounding Boston.

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