Report: 21st Century Villages Could Solve The Housing Crisis

Groundbreaking at 12 Rantoul Street development in Beverly. Mass. It's an example of 21st Century Villages housing construction.
Image: Flickr

Are 21st Century Villages — designed to attract Baby Boomers and millennials — the answer to the housing crisis in Boston and other metro regions?

The recently released 15th annual report from The Boston Foundation, The Greater Boston Housing Report Card 2017, highlights a new approach to meeting housing needs in the metro region: 21st Century Villages.

If all goes well, these villages might meet the needs of both millennials and Baby Boomers, and they just may normalize the median home prices in this notoriously expensive housing market, the authors hope. For the first time with its annual effort, The Foundation is proposing a solution to the region’s housing crisis.

According to a Salem News editorial, ultra low vacancy rates in Greater Boston have pushed the median price of a single-family home in the five-county region to an all-time high in 2017 at $447,799. The article notes that historically working class communities saw six to 14 percent increases in median home prices, higher appreciation rates than in tony Boston suburbs like Brookline and Newton, Massachusetts. Government-led creative ideas are needed, according to the article.

But the Boston region is not alone in seeing 2017 housing market inventories low and median home prices high, and 21st Century Villages may be helpful in many regions. The report includes a 10-step plan to increase this type of housing construction, based on relevant population demographics:

Now facing its third and fourth demographic revolutions, a new generation of architects, developers and construction companies are considering both new types of housing and new construction techniques to meet the needs of millennials and Baby Boomers who desire to live in housing that is right-sized, affordable and offers plenty of amenities, with a premium put on rebuilding a sense of community that typifies a’village’ lifestyle often absent from our urban centers and suburbs.”

If 21st Century Villages can reduce demand on existing housing stock, and reestablish more normal vacancy rates, they just might curb the skyrocketing home prices, the authors theorize. “Over time, if rents and home prices stabilize and household incomes continue to rise, more and more of Greater Boston’s working families — those in the middle of the region’s income distribution—will be able to afford good housing.”

What are 21st Century Villages?

According to the report, they look like multistory apartment and condo buildings, and might range in height from five to 35 stories, and be located near public transit. Other features:

  • Unit options vary in type from small/micro apartments, studios and multi-bedroom units to “pods” with four to six small, 300-square foot single-room apartments each with a private bath, but sharing a common kitchen/ dining room and living room.
  • Units vary in size, fit and finish so rents might range from $900–$1,100 range to above $3,000 per month for larger, upscale units.
  • Community spaces might include lounges, laundry facilities, seminar rooms, study areas, music practice rooms, roof gardens, small theaters, work-out gyms and work-live space for small business incubators.
  • The first floor houses retail establishments.
  • Small parking and car sharing facilities, and bicycle storage areas, can be included.

Review and download the 2017 Report Card:

2017 HousingReportCard by Ed Praetorian on Scribd

About the author

Andrea Fox

Andrea Fox

Andrea Fox is Editor of EfficientGov.com and Senior Editor at Praetorian Digital. She is based in Massachusetts.