Why Boston Is Spending $20M on Affordable Housing

Boston has plans to spend $20 million on affordable housing projects, some of which will be built on city-owned land

What Happened?
Boston has plans to spend $20 million on affordable housing projects, some of which will be built on city-owned land. The projects aim to address housing concerns while making better use of available land.

Goal
Boston has announced a $20 million affordable housing project that will redevelop land throughout the city back to its highest use. About 250 city-owned parcels of land have already been selected for housing developments specifically for low- to middle-income families. These public properties are most easily developable because they have been left vacant. Other parcels of land will also be used for the project, but currently have properties on them that must be eliminated, the Boston Globe reported.

The idea of redeveloping public land within existing urban neighborhoods to address an immediate need is considered an infill strategy. The goal is to fill in smaller development sites without transforming a community with a large-scale project. This strategy will help maintain affordability, the Boston Globe reported.

The city plans to develop the single family homes, townhomes and multifamily homes,  and sell them to low or moderate income families. First time homebuyers and families with household incomes between $60,000 and $100,000 can purchase the homes through a lottery process. Each home will be worth around $250,000 to $400,000 and encourage homeownership for families in Boston, the Boston Globe reported.

Boston has partnered with coUrbanize, a tech startup, to provide citizens with up-to-date information on the housing projects as they progress, the Boston Globe reported.

Detroit
The Mayor of Detroit has also announced a new housing initiative – Building Detroit – that will make ownership more affordable to city employees, retirees and their immediate families. City workers and their families will receive a 50 percent discount on homes sold in an auction through the Detroit Land Bank, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Eligible buyers include:

  • Current city workers on the payroll
  • Current city employees working on contract with the city
  • City retirees
  • Siblings, children and parents of the city’s current and retired workforce

The goal of the auction initiative is to save fixable homes that have been foreclosed upon, as well as improve economic stability in struggling neighborhoods. The project is also serving as a reward to city workers and retirees. Detroit hopes to keep families in homes throughout the city, as well as lure more families back to address blight, the Detroit Free Press reported.

The Detroit Land Bank’s auction program aims to either force homeowners to repair their neglected homes or hand over the deeds to the city so ownership can be transferred to a family willing to take care of the properties. Buyers of properties at the auction have six months to make the necessary repairs and move in to take advantage of the discounts.

The city wants to make it easier for city employees and young families to live, and want to live in, Detroit. By the end of 2014, the land bank housing auctions sold nearly 400 homes in the price range of $1,000 to $97,000 depending on size and location, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Leveraging Housing
EfficientGov has reported on a variety of housing innovations that focus on economic stability and long-term growth.

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EfficientGov is an independent information service providing innovative solutions to fiscal and operational challenges facing cities and towns around the world.