At Onset of Nation-Leading Goal, Multi-Family Housing Permits Nearly Double in 2012
BOSTON – February 26, 2013 – The number of multi-family housing unit permits pulled in 2012 nearly doubled from 2011, reflecting the demand that led Governor Deval Patrick to announce a statewide housing production goal of 10,000 multi-family units per year through 2020.
In 2012, 5,019 multi-family permits were pulled, compared to 2,752 in 2011, representing an 84 percent increase, as based on preliminary numbers reported by the U.S. Census Bureau’s Building Permit Survey. The 5,019 permits are the most since 2007. Total permits increased 44 percent between 2011 and 2012 in the state and the proportion of multi-family permits increased from 38 percent of total permits pulled in 2011 to 48 percent in 2012.
In November 2012, Governor Patrick announced the Commonwealth’s goal of creating 10,000 multi-family housing units per year. By creating this type of housing, which is attractive to young families and individuals, Massachusetts is better prepared to keep in state the skilled, young workforce for which employers are looking.
“The trend in housing is people are looking for homes that are accessible to public transit and the commercial core of a downtown or town center,” said Greg Bialecki, the Secretary of Housing and Economic Development. “Governor Patrick’s goal and tools we have created support this type of housing and will help us keep in Massachusetts our strong, well-educated workforce.”
“Our economy is picking up and builders are starting to create more housing,” said Marc Draisen, the Executive Director of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council. “We especially need multi-family rental housing, because rents stayed high throughout the economic crisis. Now we need to redouble our efforts to meet the Governor’s goal of 10,000 multi-family units per year.”
Permit data is readily available on the U.S. Census Bureau website. The data collected through the Building Permit Survey is updated each month by community and by housing permit type. Permit data are based on counts, not estimates, and data is available for all 351 cities and towns in the Commonwealth, which makes this dataset relevant to measuring the Governor’s goal.
The increase in multi-family permits in 2012 was supported by significant permit numbers in communities like Boston, Natick, Cambridge, Saugus, Concord and Lakeville. 24 communities pulled over 50 multi-family permits in 2012, 13 more than in 2011.
There were a number of communities that were able to make progress on multi-family housing last year, despite having fewer than 50 permits pulled, particularly in communities where projects were either completed or on-going. In Reading’s downtown, transit-oriented Chapter 40R district, 30 Haven St. opened its doors in October. Somerville’s Assembly Row broke ground on Phase I of the mixed-use development with over 450 units of housing and Everett is underway with over 300 market-rate units in the Lower Broadway District.
Additionally, some communities are putting into the place the zoning rules and programs supported by the Patrick-Murray Administration necessary to nurture future housing growth near transit, downtown cores and employment opportunities. Freetown and Ashland have worked hard to establish as-of-right zoning in their downtown cores. Mixed-use, as-of-right multi-family zoning districts will support future growth in these communities.
“Even smaller towns that have only allowed single-family houses are now realizing that multi-family housing will be an asset to their community and they are taking steps to change their zoning to allow for this development,” said Steve Smith, the Executive Director of the Southeast Regional Planning and Economic Development District. “This is a welcome and promising trend.”
As part of the goal announcement, Governor Patrick also detailed the new Compact Neighborhoods program. Compact Neighborhoods encourages growth near transit and centers through possible Chapter 40B relief and priority consideration for discretionary funding such as the MassWorks Infrastructure Program. Compact Neighborhoods joins tools like Chapter 40R, a smart-growth district program, and Chapter 43D, which supports prompt and predictable residential permitting to support location efficient, multi-family housing production.
“Current economic indicators support a pattern of growth in the housing industry. This fact when combined with robust and aggressive housing-based initiatives, like the Governor’s new multi-family housing initiative that was unveiled in November, will undoubtedly spur growth in and around transit-rich neighborhoods,” said Gerry-Lynn Darcy, the Executive Officer of Builders Association of Greater Boston. “Buyer trends further prove that the demand of desirable workforce housing for both young professionals and active families is far greater than the supply. The need for affordable multi-family housing that provides a work-live-play environment will continue to increase in the years ahead. Time, efficiency and a better quality of life are priorities that are driving young professionals and families into dense neighborhoods ripe for revitalization and growth.”
Last week, the Patrick-Murray Administration announced $67 million in affordable housing subsidies and tax credits that will produce or preserve 1,326 units of affordable and mixed-income housing, including 697 units of new housing which will help Massachusetts reach its multi-family housing production goal.
Increasing market-rate housing for families and individuals is part of the Patrick-Murray Administration’s comprehensive plan for improving housing at all levels and investing in Massachusetts’ infrastructure. Along with creating new housing, the Administration has made significant investments in the Commonwealth’s public housing stock, by preserving and improving the 46,000 housing units in the system through increased capital funding, increased operating subsidies, and changes in management of those resources.