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Report: Mass. building 100,000 fewer homes than needed each year

The Boston area is among the worst performing regions in the United States for home production, according to a report released this week.

The report by a national nonprofit called Up For Growth found Massachusetts needed to build 100,000 additional homes per year to keep up demand in recent years. It also found the shortfall doubled between 2012 and 2019.

Greg Vasil of the Greater Boston Real Estate Board, said the gap has increased even more during the pandemic, especially for homes aimed at middle-class buyers.

Vasil said luxury development is easier to finance — and low-income housing is subsidized. But the high costs of land and labor has made it harder to build conventional homes.

"If we're going to have a healthy economy and we're going to have life science companies, new tech jobs for kids coming out of college," Vasil said, "we've got to find places for those people to live."

And if the problem isn’t fixed by lawmakers, he said, more and more young professionals will leave the state for places they can afford to own a home.

The report also noted far fewer Black families own homes in the Boston metro area compared to white families, a longstanding problem both in Massachusetts and across the country.

The study said that can be attributed in part to discriminatory policies in the past, such as redlining and urban renewal, as well as current restrictions on land use.

Jesse Kanson-Benanav, executive director of the nonprofit Abundant Housing Massachusetts, said zoning laws are a key problem today.

"They affect the vast majority of Massachusetts towns use to make it impossible for anyone who cannot afford large, luxury single families homes from living in their community," Kanson-Benanav said in a press release.

Related:

Simón Rios Twitter Reporter
Simón Ríos is an award-winning bilingual reporter in WBUR's newsroom.

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