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.
In a previous article we said it cost $20B to create 50,000 affordable apartments at a cost of $400,000 per apartment and the cash flow from 50,000 income-restricted tenants would pay for it a few times over a 15-year mortgage period.
SmallWall.net stands by those estimates because after we posted the piece, the Boston Business Journal published an account of the sale of 15 Bismarck Street, an apartment building in Mattapan with commercial office space and 14 Studio apartments, 143 1BRs and 190 2BRs named the Fairlawn Apartments.
When 800,000 affordable housing consumers protest in the face of the relatively small number of affordable housing developers and budget sources, when they protest louder than a few of the 800,000 furloughed federal workers did, then you may see 100,000 new affordable housing units under construction in Greater Boston by next year.
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 wonkssay 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.
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.
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.
Letter from the Publisher Smallwall.net @movef Tweets
Renters in New York are no different than Boston renters except they get less for their money. This could be why volunteer software coders in New York meet on a regular basis to make software apps for tenants who have landlord problems.
The app Who owns What helps tenants find exactly who owns buildings and rentable properties no matter how many LLC corporations the owners hide behind It does data science to compare common data between various public records.
Its the first day of autumn in New England. Start Now!
Does your home seem too small? That could be the case even if you live in a mansion, as that’s what happens when you’re not organized. Stuff just seems to spill out of the cupboards and closets and onto the floors and tables, making you wonder what happened to all those spare square feet you had when you moved in. You know exactly what the solution to this problem is, and yet getting everything in order seems so monumental that you don’t know where to begin. Here are a few suggestions that will make the whole thing quick and easy.
Purge Old Junk Staying organized is impossible if you have too much stuff, so you need to get rid of some of it — for the sake of your own sanity. According to a writer with House Beautiful, cluttered environments overwhelm you and lead to stress, so there’s more at stake than just aesthetics. It’s not an easy task, though, so take it step by step and room by room, committing enough time to the process by saying “no” to distractions. The upside: You may be able to make some money by selling your undesirables at a yard sale.
Think Vertically If you think there’s no more room, look up before you give up. Good Housekeeping has a few suggestions for using all that space from floor to ceiling, such as installing towel bars with hanging hooks on the wall in your kitchen, preferably near your stove or counter so you can reach for spoons, spatulas, and lids as you need them. Elsewhere, imagine a few anchors attached to the backs of doors with colorful tote bags where your kids can put their toys.
Expand Your Closets Sure, you’re already using them, but probably not to the maximum. Your decluttering efforts have already freed up space previously taken up by clothes you haven’t worn in years, but there’s still work to be done. First, search for any extra cubbies and cases that you’re not using and use them to store shoes, books, and other items that don’t belong on your bedroom floor. Lastly, add another rod and more hangers to hang up whatever else you can.
Put Things in Storage That sled does not belong in the closet in the middle of summer, and ditto for the surfboard when the snow is falling. If you have a basement or attic, use them. They are the perfect places for a number of bulky items, including holiday decorations and those pots and pans you only use when making a massive Thanksgiving dinner. Anything smaller can be put into labeled boxes so you can find them when you need them, but be sure not to include old photos or anything else that could be destroyed by excessive heat or humidity.
Divide Your Drawers There’s more room in there than it seems, and some dividers will help you make the best use of it without spending any money as there’s a DIY solution. All you need is some cardboard, a box-cutter and a tape measure so everything fits into place. You need not be an expert handyman as the whole process simply involves cutting notches in the cardboard and fitting everything together to create divided cubby holes for better storage.
Shop Wisely Once you’ve organized everything, don’t let it fall into chaos once more by spending money on stuff you don’t need that just take up space. In fact, Reader’s Digest has a list of items that you should never buy for exactly this reason. Novelties and trendy clothes top the list, which should come as a surprise to absolutely nobody, but there’s also fad cookware and dollar store items to say “no” to.
The takeaway is to use your brain when shopping or deal with the consequences. A place for everything, and everything in its place. That’s what you’ll get when you’re done with these efforts — and a bigger living space, or at least one that looks like it.
Each rental lottery application states a move in date. It is usually a month or two after the Lottery Deadlines when applications are due. You will see this in Boston affordable apartment rental listing and across Massachusetts.
Even a licensed medical marijuana patient won’t get a break when apartment management and condo associations implement new rules against cannabis users.
The smell of pot smoke swirling around the building has pissed people off who don’t like it.
While most new luxury apartments ban all smokers, cigarette users have had freedom to smoke.
Now, condo associations are asking them to join a policy that allows tobacco and bans pot smoking from the premises.
Watch the sales of pot sniffing dog services, electronic smoke detectors installations and other evidence gathering techniques increase in volume as Massachusetts moves closer and closer to allowing retail stores to flourish.
While more than half of the 351 Massachusetts cities and town councils have voted to limit legalized cannabis retail shops from opening, City of Boston voted 8-1 in favor of legal retail street sales.
On the one hand, people want to be comfortable in their own home and smokers can make people uncomfortable. On the other hand people believe it is a violation of their constitutional rights to ban smoking of one kind while allowing another kind.
Growing marijuana plants at home are also a bone of contention at some residences.
Earlier this week, Smallwall Writer asked you to respond to an effort to restrict AirBnB apartment rental volume in the City of Boston. Then we wrote a letter to the movement leadership. ( Photo of small house adapted a Boston Globe article.)
We heard back a day after.
This is the letter we received.
From Councilor Tim McCarthy
The issue of short term rentals is an incredibly complex issue that will have many years of positive or negative impacts on the City of Boston. I will continue to work with the administration and my colleagues in order to get a solid ordinance that addresses this issue.