Program Description

The Priority Development Fund (PDF) was created in 2004 by MassHousing to provide funding to assist communities identify and implement strategies to increase the production of housing, both rental and homeownership.  The goal of PDF Planning Assistance is to increase the supply of housing for a range of incomes in the Commonwealth by encouraging community-based planning that will lead directly to housing production. The PDF is administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) on behalf of MassHousing pursuant to a Memorandum of Agreement between the agencies.

PDF Planning Assistance supports housing proximate to existing infrastructure, community services and public transportation, as well as projects containing ancillary commercial facilities that are secondary to the residential use of property.  Priority for funding will be given to applications that support creation of as of right zoning districts for DHCD approval; address or encourage new housing production within city or town centers, on brownfields or underutilized commercial or institutional land, or as part of a transit-oriented development opportunity; and the adaptive re-use of existing structures not currently used for housing purposes.  Applications must be consistent with the Commonwealth's Sustainable Development Principles.

Communities may apply to DHCD for PDF Planning Assistance of up to $15,000.  The amount of PDF funds awarded will be commensurate with the anticipated impact of the proposed activities on housing production.  DHCD and MassHousing reserve the right to designate certain proposals as “Initiatives of Exceptional Merit,” and increase the amount of assistance and corresponding scope of services for such projects.  

Eligible Applicants

All cities and towns within the Commonwealth.  Joint applications involving two or more communities within a region or with similar housing challenges are strongly encouraged as a way to leverage resources.  One municipality will be required to serve as the lead.

Eligible Activities

PDF Planning Assistance is to be used exclusively for consultant services to undertake community-based planning activities that will lead to the production of housing, including:

  • Community initiated activities such as education and outreach efforts that support the production of affordable housing, including:
    • Efforts to build local support to achieve consensus on or approval of housing-related issues
    • Efforts to create local housing trusts or local housing partnerships
  • Activities associated with the production of affordable housing on municipally owned/controlled sites, including:
    • Gaining site control, site analysis, financial feasibility analysis, preliminary architectural and engineering studies, and legal review
    • Development of a Request for Proposal (RFP) for land disposition
  • Zoning activities, including:
    • Planning, outreach and adoption of smart growth zoning overlay districts under M.G.L. Chapter 40R
    • Planning, outreach and adoption of other high impact up-zoning approaches that increase unit-per-acre zoning regulations within city/town centers and/or near transit, employment, retail and services, and other appropriate areas to facilitate more compact, vital development areas, including other types of as of right zoning districts for DHCD approval.
  • Housing Production Plans, including:
    • Preparation, update or renewal of HPPs under M.G.L. Chapter 40B and 760 CMR 56.03(4)
    • Implementation of strategies for the production of affordable housing identified in DHCD-approved HPPs

Application Process

  1. Communities are encouraged to meet with DHCD staff to discuss their proposed funding requests/activity prior to application submission.
  2. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis.


For more information contact (617) 573-1400