City’s Inclusionary Development Policy garnered affordable units for Boston, but few in Rox

Of 1,737 private-developer-made units, less than 1 percent were in Roxbury

Jule Pattison-Gordon | 8/17/2017, 6 a.m.

On the Web

BPDA’s Inclusionary Development Policy Report: http://tinyurl.com/ybp9t7eg

Private firms have been spurred to create almost 1,740 affordable housing units in Boston, thanks to the city’s Inclusionary Development Policy. But less than 1 percent of those units have been built in Roxbury, according to a recent Boston Planning and Development Agency report.

Since its establishment in 2000, the IDP has helped the city increase overall affordable housing stock. Under the policy, developers of buildings with 10 or more units who seek zoning relief or to use land owned by the city must create a number of units affordable to moderate- and middle-income households. They can fulfill this requirement by designating a percentage of on-site units as affordable, building a higher percentage of affordable units off-site, paying into an affordable housing fund or enacting some combination of these options.

While developer-created IDP units have largely skipped Roxbury, these trends could be shifting as developers now turn attention to Boston’s outer neighborhoods. According to the city’s latest permitting numbers, released in July, 69 percent of new permit applications have been for developments outside of the downtown core, with many units expected to be moderately priced.

IDP results across neighborhoods

Between 2000 and 2016, developers have fulfilled IDP requirements by building 1,737 units on- or off-site. Sixty-seven percent of these have been rental. However, of all units created, only eight have been in Roxbury. Roslindale and Mattapan also received scant amounts: nine units and 19 units, respectively. The neighborhood netting the highest number of on- or off-site developer-created IDP units is South Boston, which, with 403 units, represents 23 percent of the total.

Developers who cashed out to satisfy IDP requirements, instead of building some affordable units, have contributed about $96.8 million under the policy. These funds subsidized about 1,070 completed affordable units in various parts of the city. IDP collections have risen in recent years: Annual commitments increased from about $8.5 million before 2015 to about $17.6 million after, according to the BPDA report.

Honing the IDP

According to the BPDA report, the IDP is valuable for targeting a kind of housing rarely supported.

“It is one of the only resources for addressing moderate to middle-income households being priced out of Boston’s real estate market,” the report states.

In January 2016, Mayor Martin Walsh’s administration revised the IDP policy. These adjustments increased the off-site unit requirements and cash-out rates on developers who built in areas with higher home sales prices. BPDA project manager Phil Cohen said in December 2015 that the intention was to encourage construction, especially of middle-class housing, in the outer neighborhoods less frequented by developers. The policy changes also aligned with goals of increasing overall affordable housing stock in the city, and the BPDA report states IDP has been helpful in increasing the amount of affordable housing present in the downtown core.

Under the adjustments, off-site construction and cash-out amounts were increased on developers building in the expensive downtown and waterfront neighborhoods. Developers experienced the same hike in off-site requirements and a lessened rise in pay-out amounts if they sited projects in the neighborhoods of Allston, Brighton, Charleston, Jamaica Plain or Mission Hill or in the waterfront part of South Boston. Meanwhile, IDP requirements remained the same for Roxbury, Dorchester, East Boston, Hyde Park, Mattapan, Roslindale and West Roxbury.