For Immediate Release - January 31, 2014

Multi-Family Housing Permits See Strongest Numbers in 7 Years

BOSTON – Thursday, January 30, 2014 – The number of multi-family housing unit permits pulled in 2013 rose to 7,601, making it the strongest year for such construction since 2006 and 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.  

The 2013 multi-family permit number represents a 50 percent increase over 2012, when 5,019 were pulled, based on preliminary numbers released today by the U.S. Census Bureau’s Building Permit Survey.  Total permits increased 39 percent between 2012 and 2013 in the state and the proportion of multi-family permits increased from 48 percent of total permits pulled in 2012 to 52 percent in 2013.

In the last four years, the number of multi-family starts have more than tripled, from 2,346 in 2009 to 7,601 in 2013. 

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 market is continuing to respond to the demand for homes that are in the commercial core of a downtown or town center and accessible to public transit,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Greg Bialecki. “Governor Patrick’s goal and the tools we have created both support the kind of live, work and play neighborhoods we need to keep and attract younger workers.”

According to a recent report by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), the Greater Boston region will need to produce between 6,800 and 11,660 multi-family homes a year through 2020.  The report, which projected housing demand through 2040 for 101 communities in the Greater Boston region, analyzed demographic trends that include retirement and down-sizing by the “baby boomer” generation, the labor force needs for “status quo” and “stronger growth”  scenarios, and the household size and housing type preferences of the various generational cohorts.

"If we're going to encourage employers to locate and expand in Greater Boston, we're going to have to build more homes that working families can afford to buy and rent," said MAPC Executive Director Mark Draisen.

In keeping with its commitment to planning ahead for growth and promoting multi-family housing, the Patrick Administration announced that the 2013 round of the MassWorks Infrastructure Grant Program would include 20 grants supporting the creation of 2,518 multi-family homes. Last week, the Administration announced that it will make $600,000 available for planning grants to cities and towns that are planning for market rate and affordable housing production under a new program, Planning Assistance Toward Housing (PATH).

Both the MassWorks Program and the new planning grants will provide priority funding this year for multi-family housing in mixed use districts well-connected to employment. 

Last fall, Housing and Economic Development Secretary Greg Bialecki accepted a national “workforce housing” award from the Urban Land Institute (ULI) recognizing the Patrick Administration’s leadership in pursuing a strategy to increase the supply of housing needed, and in the places needed, for its workforce.

“We are beginning to build in the Commonwealth the housing we will need for older baby boomers looking to downsize and the young millennials we need to power our economy,” said Barry Bluestone, Director of the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University. “As we noted in the latest installment of the Greater Boston Housing Report Card, Massachusetts has been putting in place policies that are encouraging developers not only to build more housing, but to build the multi-family housing that we need now and will need even more in the future.”

Improving the housing stock at all levels is a priority for the Patrick Administration. 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.

Since 2009, the Patrick Administration, working with the Legislature and Congress, has directed direct over $700 million in federal and state tax credits and state housing program subsidies to projects that improve the state's affordable housing, create jobs and build stronger communities. These investments have generated more than 14,000 jobs and 10,000 homes.

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. The U.S. Census Bureau preliminary data released today is subject to revision when the final data is released in May 2014. 

The Commonwealth announced last year that progress toward the statewide goal will be measured in a Housing Production Goal Report, which combines the U.S. Census data and additional information reported directly by municipalities. This Report will count building permits on a community-by-community basis and provide additional detail about 2013 housing starts. 

The Patrick Administration has developed and implemented a comprehensive economic strategy that builds on public-private collaborations to spur economic development and provide economic opportunity to all. The plan includes five strategic goals, and 55 action steps to help us successfully advance each goal. One action item, our Housing that Works initiative, directly supports the Governor’s multi-family housing goal.

For more on the Plan, please visit . For more on the multi-family housing goal and our Housing that Works initiative, visit the Housing that Works website.