Build up or pay up.
That is the message Massachusetts is sending to 175 cities and suburbs in the Boston area, as a bill passed last year to boost housing production begins to take effect. Almost every jurisdiction in eastern Massachusetts, from the New Hampshire border to Worcester to the Cape Cod Canal, will have to do its part zoning for 344,000 new units of as-of-right multifamily housing—or lose access to some state grant programs. That means allowing apartments in many tony subdivisions currently reserved for single-family homes.
For perspective, all of Massachusetts currently builds just 15,000 new units a year—a huge drop-off from the 20th century and one reason that the Boston area has some of the highest rents and home prices in the country. “Massachusetts is the first state to actually get a policy like this,” said Jessie Grogan at the Cambridge-based Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. “Are the incentives strong enough? Probably not. But it will have some impact, and more than the other housing tools we’ve tried.”
Can You Force the Suburbs to Build Apartments? Massachusetts Is Trying.
Even if some towns “have to go kicking and screaming.”
BY HENRY GRABAR
The estimated population of Massachusetts is 6,984,723