New WBUR investigation uncovers vacancies in state-funded public housing units — despite a waitlist

Massachusetts faces an intractable and urgent affordable housing crisis.

More than 180,000 people are on a waitlist for a state-funded housing unit, and the wait is often long. Meantime, the state's shelter system is at the breaking point, with families living in hotels, college dorms and a military base.

And yet, WBUR's latest investigation found that there are plenty of housing units—more than 2,000—currently sitting empty. Some have been empty for years. Users can explore an interactive map at to see the number of vacancies and size of the state's public housing waitlist in each community.

The vacant apartments translate into millions of Massachusetts taxpayer dollars wasted due to delays and government mismanagement, all while families who are waiting for months living in unsustainable housing conditions are left in limbo.

This WBUR Investigation was produced in collaboration with ProPublica. Stories will air on WBUR's Morning Edition, Radio Boston and All Things Considered from Sept. 19 through 21.


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