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Menino Outlines $16.5B Boston Housing Plan

BOSTON — Months after first announcing a goal of creating 30,000 new housing units by the end of the decade, Mayor Thomas Menino detailed his Housing Boston 2020 initiative on Monday.

The $16.5 billion blueprint, crafted with the input of outside advisers, seeks to meet the needs of “our changing city,” Menino said.

“[I]n order to fulfill its promise, Boston needs to continue its relentless focus on creating housing, because this is an issue that affects every Boston resident,” he said in a press release accompanying the plan. “We do not simply need to put roofs over peoples’ heads; we need to think carefully about the right kind of housing for our changing city.”

Of the 30,000 new housing units, 25,000 would be at unrestricted private market rates, though the city is aiming to increase assistance to improve “[middle-class households’] ability to buy a home in the existing housing market.” The remaining 5,000 units would be of affordable, deed-restricted housing.

The initiative also recommends reducing the number of students living in private housing.

The blueprint relies on a mix of public and private investment sources, such as selling vacant public property for housing. The plan also seeks a 2014 ballot referendum on the Community Preservation Act, which would allow the city to add a 1 percent surcharge on real estate tax bills. That money would then fund affordable housing in Boston.

With its report, the city is also looking to reduce private building costs. Steps include smaller unit size standards and relaxing requirements on parking availability.

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