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Housing Choice Designation Application Guide

Review these guidelines before applying for the Housing Choice Designation.

Municipalities are eligible for 2019 Housing Choice Designation if they meet the following:

  • Must have applied for (or received) a Community Compact; and 
  • Must NOT have an active moratorium or any other bylaws/ordinances that restrict the development of new housing; and
  • Adopted or commit to develop an ADA Self Evaluation / Transition Plan

Eligible municipalities can either apply through the High Production or Production & Planning path. 

High Production:

Demonstrated increase in housing stock by at least 5% or 500 units over the last 5 years

Production and Planning:

For communities with 3% or 300 unit increases in the last 5 years, must also meet 5 of 11 best practices, one of which must be an Affordable Best Practice.  Note:  Affordable Best Practices are marked with an *

  1. * Designated local resources for housing such as established an Affordable Housing Trust, donated land, or spent substantial Community Preservation Act (CPA)  funds for community housing over the last 5 years
  2. Selected a housing best practice as part of a Community Compact
  3. * Have units currently eligible for inclusion in the Subsidized Housing Inventory (SHI) that equal or exceed  10% of total year round housing stock according to the DHCD subsidized housing inventory 
  4. Have zoning that allows mixed use or cluster / Open Space Residential development by right (or can demonstrate a pattern of approving such developments over the last 5 years)
  5. Have zoning that allows for accessory dwelling units by right (or can demonstrate a pattern of approving ADUs over the last 5 years)
  6. *Have Inclusionary Zoning that provides for reasonable density increases  so that housing is not unreasonable precluded
  7. * Have an approved 40R Smart Growth or Starter Homes district
  8. * Participate in the Housing Development Incentive Program, have adopted an Urban Center Housing Tax Increment Financing district, approved District Improvement Financing (DIF) related to housing, have adopted an Urban Renewal Plan that includes a significant Housing element, or have adopted property tax relief programs either as provided for by statute (MGL c. 59 section 5) or through a home rule petition. 
  9. Have at least one zoning district that allows multifamily by right with capacity to add units and that allows for family housing (does not restrict units with more than 2 bedrooms)
  10. * Have a CERTIFIED Housing Production Plan which means that you have an DHCD approved Housing Production Plan and have subsequently seen an increase of 0.5% or 1% in your year round housing units (see https://www.mass.gov/service-details/chapter-40-b-housing-production-plan for more information)
  11. Reduced parking requirement for Multi-Family units within the last 5 years, or require no more than 1 parking space per unit for multifamily units.

Municipalities will have to submit documentation of achievement, including housing production data and relevant zoning codes and bylaws.

The sections below provide additional information about How to Calculate your community's housing production. 

How can I find out the number of new housing units that were built in my commuity over the last 5 years?

Calculate the number of additional year-round housing units over the last 5 years using the number of BUILDING PERMITS for new housing units to create the ratio of additional units added over the last 5 years, excluding housing units that replace demolished units at a 1 to 1 ratio. Demolition of one single family unit and replacement with one single family unit is an increase of 0 units. If a demolished single family home is replaced with 3 units, the net increase is +2 units.

Data Sources: BUILDING PERMITS for new dwellings are the measurement of additional year-round housing units for this calculation. Your building official should have a record of new residential building permits for year-round housing issued between January 1, 2014 through December 31, 2018.

  • If your building official does not have ready access for this information, another source for this building permit data is information submitted by your community to the U.S. Census in the Building Permit Survey.  2018 Building Permit Survey data is not yet available, and therefore 2018 building permit data must be provided from your building official. If your community has reason to believe the current Census Building Permit Survey data does not fully reflect the number of building permits in your community, there will be a place in the application to add comments and explanation.
  • The US Census collects Building Permit data from each municipality in Massachusetts.  While your city or town's records may vary from the reported additional units, the attached table can provide you with a "back of the envelope" calculation about the number of new units built between 2013 and 2017. 

See the attached Building Permit Census data, 2010 Housing Units and a calculated percent increase over the 5 year period 2013 through 2017 to get a"back of the envelope" sense of where your community stands in terms of its past housing production.  NOTE:  If you make an application for Housing Choice designation, you will need to use data for 2018 units and use the time period 2014 through 2018.

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