Study: Local Zoning Rules Block Multi-Family Housing in MA

Jun 3, 2019

Over the past 15 years, despite many changes in local zoning, it remains difficult if not impossible to build multi-family housing in cities and towns across Metro Boston, according to a detailed study on development released this week.

Due to a combination of local policies and state rules, housing has become increasingly difficult to permit in all but a handful of communities across the region, despite an affordability crisis and supply shortage that threatens to hobble the region’s economy and worsen racial wealth gaps.

The report, “The State of Zoning for Multi-Family Housing in Greater Boston,” paints a dismal picture of the process for approving and building housing in 100 communities comprising Greater Boston, even as the region struggles with escalating rents and an inadequate supply of homes to house all the workers needed to fill jobs in a bustling Massachusetts economy.

The research was commissioned by the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance and funded collaboratively with: Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association, Home Builders & Remodelers Association of Massachusetts, Massachusetts Association of Realtors, Massachusetts Housing Partnership, MassHousing, and Metropolitan Area Planning Council. These organizations, among many others, are advocating for change in zoning rules. The Baker Administration has also promoted policy change in the housing and zoning realm that build’s off an existing “Housing Choice” designation and grant opportunity.

The full report, along with an executive summary and corresponding PowerPoint presentation are available below and at the website of the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance.