Proposal To Pave Way For More Dense Housing In Greater Boston12:01

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We've talked a lot about the housing crunch in Massachusetts, particularly in Greater Boston. But a controversial proposal on Beacon Hill could aims to help ease the tight housing market by making it easier for developers to build multi-family units.

"We have such a crisis on our hands, we need to take extraordinary measures to allow for more density in the commonwealth," said state Rep. Kevin Honan, chair of the Joint Committee on Housing, who is sponsoring the legislation. "It can't be solved just in Boston, Chelsea, Everett, Somerville, Cambridge. It has to be more of a regional solution."

It sounds simple: Decrease red tape and increase housing. But many municipalities worry that large, multi-family development projects would put an extra strain on their budgets and change the very fabric of their communities which makes them unique.


Michael Goodman, professor of public policy and executive director of the Public Policy Center at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. He tweets @Mike_Goodman.

Geoff Beckwith, executive director of the Massachusetts Municipal Association. He tweets @GeoffBeckwith.


Commonwealth Magazine: Moment Of Reckoning For Housing And State Economy

  • "The new Housing Committee legislation represents something entirely different: It would shift the debate from whether to how our cities and towns allow the housing production we need to support a strong and economically viable Commonwealth."

Massachusetts Municipal Association: Resolution Ensuring a Strong and Productive Role for Cities, Towns and Community Residents To Promote and Ensure Effective Land Use and Housing Policies (2014)

  • "Cities and towns must retain the right to plan and create land-use frameworks for the development of a broad array of housing choices to accommodate future increases in population in the region and statewide."

The Boston Foundation: The Greater Boston Housing Report Card 2015

  • "Land, construction and development costs in Massachusetts are so high and zoning against high-density developments is so pervasive that builders simply can’t produce housing that working and middle-income families can afford."

Metropolitan Area Planning Council: Population And Housing Demand Projections For Metro Boston

  • "The Status Quo scenario projects population growth of approximately 6.6% over the next three decades, with a corresponding need for 305,000 housing units, and an increase of 11,000 people in the labor force. Stronger Region entails a population increase of 12.6% and housing demand of 435,000 new units, with over 175,000 additional people in the labor force. Which scenario is “more likely” to occur depends on decisions yet to be made."

Bill H.4140: An Act To Expedite Multifamily Housing Construction And Cluster Development

  • "Within three years of the effective date of this section, zoning ordinances and bylaws shall provide one or more districts in which multi-family housing is a permitted use as of right."

This segment aired on April 12, 2016.