This is our national challenge for the next 25 years, according to Jeffrey C. Fuhrer, Executive Vice President/Chief Strategy Officer for MassDevelopment, the Commonwealth’s economic development and finance authority.
A Guide for Arlington
The Massachusetts Housing Partnership put together this 2018 guidebook, v.3, to help municipalities adopt Municipal Affordable Housing Trust Fund (MAHT) legislation to suit the specific needs of each municipality.
Dave Weinstock, an Arlington resident interested in affordable housing wondered about the concept of “developer math”. The math involved in planning an affordable housing projects is a problem that needs to get solved in order to have anything built here in Arlington, or anywhere. This topic comes up frequently in community discussions about the need for more housing.
Jennifer Susse authored this letter on January 20, 2020. Ms. Susse is a member of the Arlington School Committee and a Town Meeting Member. She closely follows the costs and demographic trends of school enrollment and of Town finances.
Does Arlington need more housing? If yes, will more housing result in higher school costs? There is a perception that more housing means more school age children and more school age children will strain the capacity and expand the budget of the Arlington Public Schools.
Prepared by: Barbara Thornton with the capable assistance of Alex Bagnall, Pamela Hallett, Patrick Hanlon, Karen Kelleher, Steve Revilak and Jennifer Susse.
The City of Somerville estimates that a 2% real estate transfer fee — with 1% paid by sellers and 1% paid by buyers, and that exempts owner-occupants (defined as persons residing in the property for at least two years) — could generate up to $6 million per year for affordable housing. The hotter the market, and the greater the number of property transactions, the more such a fee would generate.
Issues of supply, affordability, and equity all contribute to an ongoing housing crisis in Massachusetts. Among U.S. metro areas with knowledge-based industries, metro Boston ranks near the bottom in housing production and near the top on development costs. Due to the latter, production of new affordable housing units has scarcely increased over the past decade. And largely decentralized authority over land use regulations, by 351 cities and towns, does little to foster uniform housing equity standards.
A study by Elise Rapoza and Michael Goodman shows that new housing construction in MA does not have an adverse affect on municipal or school budgets. And when it might, state funding covers the difference. This study contradicts the often heard argument against new housing development, especially multi-family housing, because it, the argument claims, it will have a negative fiscal impact on communities.