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25 Dorchester 1BR apartments 50% AMI in Dorchester at $803

Aparatment Construction

Each person received a number when their sealed apartment lottery application arrived.  One thousand showed up. Twenty-five will be selected. The rent is $803/mo for a 1BR new-build. 

Real estate brokers won’t touch this. They are not needed in the Massachusetts rental lottery. Used 1-BR apartments are going for more than $1,499 in the city.

This one is brand-new.  
You can’t smoke in this building.

If two or more will live in the apt,  the household income is restricted to $49,680. FICO and credit reports will be checked. 

The housing lottery Opening Date has arrived, in this real-world scenario.

Curtain call comes. 

Lights! Camera! Action!

Bean counters randomly cycle numbers that were assigned to applications. 
A person twirling a barrel or a machine and a software program picks the numbers. Its like lucky guessing. There could artificial intelligence driving the decision making. And if it is, the AI may be biased!

The air is tense. Sometimes the lottery manager will provide space for a crowd to gather and watch as the number picking process unfolds. The application forms may be stacked up there, or they have been filed and substituted with a computer-printed number.

Hopeful tenants filed them on time!  The Internet and the U.S. Post Office delivered them.  Some were hand-delivered before the deadline arrived.

And the winners are Twenty-five tenants!

The office starts its due diligence process on them. The household income fit is checked, among other things like Preferences, homeless status. The verification process takes a while. 

Then it happens.  

Eight hopeful applicant applicants are disqualified because they filed a non-compliant application in the lottery.

The lottery mechanism picks the next eight from the ranked list. 

 Months later, the building begins to fill.

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Housing lottery highlights found in the application fine print.

Your Credit Score counts when you apply to a Massachusetts housing lottery. New York Housing lotteries don’t care about that.

However; applicants who have received a housing subsidy (like Section 8) are not subject to the minimum income requirements when applying to certain lotteries, like this one named Broadstone Bare Cove of Hingham. Their apartment units are coming to market soon and have a listed minimum income requirement of $45,180. The application period ends in late August 2019.

When paying rents at market-rate buildings, the leasing office may expect your income to be at least 2.5 times the listed rent. And they will want a rent-to-income ratio of 40%. Affordable housing lottery processors in Mass will look at your Rent-To-Income Ratio  as well. Its about cash-flow. They look for the amount of money left over after you pay for your car, your school, your food and other necessary, recurring lifestyle expenses. All household incomes are included in the calculation.

The housing application requires you to list all income earning household residents for proof. The left-over has to consistently cover the rents. Uber/Lyft  drivers and other gig-economy workers who do not receive a regular W-2 will likely have to file a Profit and Loss statement to prove income with their housing lottery applications. Housing lottery filing forms have been including a blank P&L form for them.

When DHCD funds ( Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development) are used to build the property, the applicant must pass reviews on credit scores, tenant history, and criminal background checks in accordance with DHCD’s requirements regarding same. Where minimum incomes tables are listed in some housing applications, the figures they show  may not be “required” because they are the estimated figures the leasing office came up with, but if you can hit those marks, it is a good thing.

Income: for the Brand New Affordable rental units going to market in Hingham soon, these approximate minimum income limits for households without a housing subsidy are mentioned in the app:  1 BR $ 45,180; 2 BR $ 52,500; 3 BR $ 59,100. 

Well, these items are just a few of the important details in a Massachusetts housing lottery application form.

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Cambridge affordable housing opportunities

City Hall Cambridge

City of Cambridge affordable housing is owned by non-profits,  Town Hall, and there are privately-owned affordable housing units. Low income applicants are charged 30% of their income for rent when selected into the program.  The Community Development Department (CDD) is accepting Preliminary Applications.  To be considered into the Inclusionary Housing Rental Program you must apply.  You can view the eligibility requirements here and download the application. 

Housing in the Middle-Income program is for households with an income between $60,000 to $100,000. The Maximum Income Program allows incomes between $90,000 and $150,000.

A number of departments and organizations are building and renting affordable housing in the City of Cambridge. Click here to view the list.

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The price is fixed for affordable housing homes on sale like these in Boston.

consulting and advice

The cost of houses for sale to the affordable housing pre-qualified consumer have been stable. They haven’t changed much in two years.

In these photos, one is $293,000 with low down payment, $425,000 hooks up a two-family spread on Forrest Street and the odd number of $343,000 buys two attached single-family dwellings in Dorchester DOT Boston.

APPLICATION LINK

These are housing lottery sales and they go down March 8th, 2019 when your application is due.

Smallwall.net Affordable Housing Finders
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Good government mission for the affordable housing consumer.

BEVERLY Studio floorplan

The City of Boston can rightfully brag that it does better than most cities in the US when addressing the need for affordable housing inventory,

Take this message contained in the Boston Mayor’s State of the City 2019 speech where he said …

” We are committed to leaving no one behind. In Boston we’ve created more affordable homes than any time on record. We’ll create 1,000 new homeowners in the next five years by building more affordable homes and providing more financial help. We’ve housed over 1,600 chronically homeless people. A year ago we launched the Boston’s Way Home Fund and set a goal of raising $10 million over 4 years for supportive housing. After just 1 year, we have already raised $5 million.”


Housing policy wonks say the claim rings true, that Boston has put a larger “percentage of affordable rentals” on the market than most other cities of its size in the U.S, in recent years.

But the devil is in the details.

Politics is about the control of limited resources.  Land and money are limited resources. It takes both to create a housing unit, be it an expensive luxury apartment building or an affordable building of similar size.

And because land and money are limited, there may or will NEVER be enough affordable housing to meet everyone’s need in urban areas. Let’s face it. A substantial number of people have limited incomes. Its just the way it is.

What a housing lottery really is

A democracy is a hard thing to administer, therefore its political leadership invented THE HOUSING LOTTERY as an attempt to be fair.  This works for a lot of people. But when there are 6,000 applicants for a workforce priced building unit that has  200 openings, then the policy has not worked for 5,800 people who applied for the units.

The Beverly building
workforce priced housing in downtown Boston

This was the case at THE BEVERLY, a downtown Boston building near the North End that demonstrates an interesting way to fairly treat the pre-qualified affordable housing consumer. See chart below for the affordable rental rates in that new modern complex.

The Beverly’s affordable-housing units were offered in a housing lottery to households with annual incomes of $17,578 to $60,000, according to the developer. Rents were to start at $492 a month depending on income. It is a LUXURY apartment building complex that has 239 units. It offered 66 Affordable Price units in chart below.

Numbers like these are repeated at most Housing Lottery opportunities. But there is good news in the mix. When a building full of condos for sale to the income-restricted went to market with 11 available units, only 18 lottery applications were received by management.

Eleven people won a unit of 18 that applied. Probably, some of those 18 applications were rejected for technical reasons as they usually are.

 We spoke to one of the winners – a coffee shop manager in the Seaport. He said when it put in his application he didn’t expect to win,  but he thought “what do I have to lose” he said. The move enabled him to save hundreds of dollars a month less the going market rate. 

The $5 billion city plan

If Boston had won the Amazon Headquarters II  deal opportunity that plan called for the new construction of housing to meet the needs of  50,000 employees.  AMAZON valued the deal at $5 Billion 

Do you want to know who was going to build that new housing?  Guess no more, we have the document.
Click here to read it.

This writer would like to think that a BEVERLY-like solution with the scale of the Amazon buildout can be constructed.  The Affordable Housing industry uses a rough figure of $400,000 each to build a unit to meet standard requirements in urban areas. That cost is all inclusive of land, construction materials, finance cost, labor and all that. 

If it cost $400,000 a unit and there are 50,000 people looking to access affordable housing at the BEVERLY  income ranges stated above, then there is cash to work with. It would cost $20 Billion to build 50,000 affordable price units. 

The Beverly rent rates
at the 2018 lottery closing

Would an extra 50,000 affordable housing units take the pressure off? You bet it will! If you divided the $20B construction cost of 50,000 new units by the 50,000 people now in the market looking for a unit, you’ll arrive at a figure of $40,000 per person.

This simple math can be looked at any way you want, but from the calculations,  there appears to be enough regular cash flow coming from 50,000 renters to pay off the $20B construction cost, while holding tenant monthly housing cost to an amount no more than 40% income all inclusive. The Beverly affordable rent range started at $492/mo and ended somewhere north of $2,000 per unit scaled to income.

Eminent domain property taking is necessary to put up a new apartment complex of this magnitude. Boston mayors have unusual powers. They are tremendous.  

What does financing $20B over 15 years look like? Chances are with all the rent coming in against it, there would be a profit to be taken that can pay for building a few more 50,000 affordable unit packages where they need to go.  Look around Boston, don’t disturb the greenspace and figure how to do it. 

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