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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.

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. 

Letter from the Publisher
Smallwall.net
@movef Tweets

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This elected Boston Councillor accepts help from people who believe the rent is too damn high!

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

timothy.mccarthy@boston.gov

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.

I appreciate your email and your advocacy.

Tim McCarthy

District 5 City Councilor

Boston City Hall- 5th Floor

Boston, MA 02201

617-635-4210

@mccarthy4boston

What you see out your front door- is important to us!

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Send corporate AirBnB raiders this letter today. It helps put more rental apts back on the market.

a dollar for an idea

When a 170-unit apartment building opened. In Jamaica Plain, a corporation scooped up 24 units at full rent. They loaded in furniture and began renting to short-term users for $210 per day.

When a West coast city passed a rule banning this practice, thousands of apartments came back on the market overnight.

You can help stop the raids in Boston.

Email the letter below

to: citycouncilstr@adco.boston

Adco Boston is the campaign

to stop corporate AirBnB

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TO: Boston City Council Members:

I am writing to support the Mayor’s Ordinance on Short-Term Residential Rentals in the City of Boston.

The elimination of the Investor Unit category will preserve housing opportunities for our residents and better ensure the mitigation of potentially significant negative impacts on our downtown neighborhoods.

I urge Councilors to vote ‘yes’ on the Mayor’s ordinance.

Thank you,

Your name
Your address in Boston
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