The Boston City Council wants more affordable housing in the city and wants developers to contribute and help with the housing crisis.
Earlier this week, the council held a hearing regarding Boston’s Inclusionary Development Policy, which requires developers to provide some affordable housing on some projects. If developers build more than nine housing units, they have to make 13 percent of the units affordable, provide off-site housing, or make a donation to the affordable housing fund.
Councilor Ed Flynn believes these requirements need to be stricter. In his district (Chinatown), many longtime residents are being forced out. According to the councilor, around 24 percent of Chinatown residents live in poverty.
He suggested the percentage move from 13 to 18 percent affordable housing required. He also wants to see if there is a way to get developers to donate to the fund even if they build less than nine units.
“We need to have bold and innovative ideas to handle this housing crisis,” he said during the hearing.
The Inclusionary Development Policy, created in 2000, has raised $137.1 million for the fund and created almost 3,000 affordable housing units.
Flynn mentioned that the city could also take over struggling shopping centers throughout the city. He suggested that the ground floor could be commercial space and higher levels could be residential. He said towns across the state have started doing this.
Councilor Kim Janey said more of these conversations need to keep happening. “We have several tools in our toolbox we are not using,” she said.
Resident Emily Ratcliffe believes the lack of affordable housing in the city will cut away at the diversity the city offers.
“Nobody wants to live in an all white, rich city,” she said. “All of us are enriched by being surrounded by others with different lived experiences.”
Chief of Housing Sheila Dillion said the Boston Planning and Development Agency is reviewing the Inclusionary program and will be having several public meetings throughout the summer to get residents’ feedback on the issue.
She also said it is important not only to build more affordable housing, but not to lose the units they already have, and are working with the city and landlords to make sure that doesn’t happen.