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New Study: More than 30 Percent of Massachusetts Communities Failing Housing Promises of Community Preservation Act Tufts Center for State Policy Analysis Finds Missed Opportunities to Address Housing Crisis

In the midst of a housing production crisis, more than a third of communities participating in the state’s Community Preservation Act are failing to meet the legal mandate that 10 percent of the assessment on -local property taxes be spent on housing, a new study from the Tufts Center for State Policy Analysis shows.

The report found that housing is receiving far less of the new funding than open space and recreation and historic preservation, which each have consistently drawn more than 40 percent of the funding, while housing projects consistently received less than 20 percent of all CPA funding.

“The Community Preservation Act can be a vital tool communities may use to increase housing production – they just need to fully use it,” Greg Vasil, CEO of the Greater Boston Real Estate Board, said. “We hope this analysis by Tufts and its recommendations shed light on ways that the CPA, a program we have supported since its inception, can be strengthened to create more housing and more meaningfully address the housing crisis.”

“Communities across Massachusetts must play their part in meeting affordable housing requirements and helping the state overcome the housing crisis,” said Kate Franco, Board Chair of the Greater Boston Real Estate Board. “By enforcing – and even strengthening – the CPA, the state has an opportunity to send a clear message that it is committed to making the Commonwealth of Massachusetts more affordable.”

The report, “Missed Opportunities: Funding Housing Through the Community Preservation Act,” analyzes how the 195 communities that have joined the CPA since it became law in 2000 are spending the program’s funds. The findings come as Massachusetts faces an unprecedented housing crisis that has contributed to the departure of more than 100,000 residents since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, putting the long-term economic vitality of the region in jeopardy.

Under the program, municipalities may impose a surcharge on local property tax bills to fund – with the support of a partial state match – affordable housing, historic preservation, open space and recreation. Participating communities must commit to spend at least 10 percent of funding on each of those areas. The report found the program has worked to create affordable housing in urban and rural communities, but has been less successful in suburban areas, which have prioritized open space over housing development.

“Though the Community Preservation Act has proven incredibly popular across Massachusetts, our research reveals how serious gaps exist within the program that have dramatically impeded the creation and maintenance of affordable housing,” said Evan Horowitz, Executive Director of The Center for State Policy Analysis at Tufts University. “Our findings highlight how the state may improve the CPA to help the program reach its full potential, and make it a more pivotal tool in helping the state overcome the housing crisis.”

The report finds:

  • Since the CPA took effect, less than 5 percent of projects have involved the creation of new housing, with funds primarily going towards unit upkeep and maintenance.
  • When housing creation does occur, urban areas spend substantially more than suburban communities.
  • Towns appear to occasionally double-count homes produced.


Dozens of communities that placed CPA funds in housing trusts - municipal bank accounts - have not reported how these funds were later used, even though they are required to do so.

To boost housing production, the report recommends:

  • Offering additional state funds for cities and towns that commit at least 20 percent of their CPA dollars to affordable housing (or 10 percent to support new housing units). Municipalities meeting these higher thresholds could also be given priority access to state grants and subsidies.
  • Ensuring that all municipalities are meeting the minimum requirement to devote at least 10 percent of CPA revenue to affordable housing. Cities and towns falling below this threshold may need to support additional “make-up” housing projects moving forward.
  • Enforcing reporting requirements for housing trusts, including annual spending summaries and concrete project details.


The report is available for review at this new website, MAHousingsolutions.com which breaks down the findings and shows how participating communities are spending CPA funds.



Funding Housing Through the Community Preservation Act

New Report: The Impact of Rent Control Across America

A new analysis shows recently enacted rent control polices in cities across America hurt housing supply.

The new NAA reports interviews with housing providers and developers from three different markets impacted by rent control policies and proposals: St. Paul, Minn; Santa Ana/Santa Barbara; Calif; and Portland/Eugene, Ore. The interviewees ranged from large firms operating thousands of units and having properties across the country to small mom-and-pop businesses with a handful of units and, often, invested in real estate as part of a retirement plan or second source of income.

The housing provider research was supplemented with an online public opinion poll across the United States in February 2023. The poll questions focused on housing availability, residential construction and policy perspectives. Below are the key findings from the interviews and public opinion poll.

Rent control reduces investment and development:  Over 70% of housing providers say rent control impacts their investment and development plans; actions include reducing investments, shifting plans to other markets, and canceling plans altogether.

Rent control deters maintenance and improvements, pushing owners to sell: With rent control in effect, housing providers are faced with the difficult financial strain of absorbing essential maintenance costs and are forced to reduce investments in improvements and nonessential maintenance. As a result, 54% said they expect to or would consider selling some assets.


Rent control policies subsidize high-income residents: 
Nearly 60% of rental housing providers know of higher-income residents who benefit from these policies. Additionally, almost half of poll respondents incorrectly believe rent control only provides affordable housing to low- and moderate-income households.

The report concluded that while the notion of rent control policies may appear as an appealing solution to housing affordability, it is critical to acknowledge their potentially counterproductive and damaging consequences. Rent control has been proven to negatively impact renters, housing providers and even entire communities. This research shows that rent control policies can inadvertently lead to reduced housing supply, lower property values and decreased quality of available properties. Additionally, rent control disincentivizes new construction, which could exacerbate the housing affordability crisis

Click here to read the report.

Rent Control Policies Across America
GBREB NEWS

Boston Unveils Online Processes for Smoke/CO Detector Inspections

The Boston Fire Department has announced a new online application process for smoke and carbon monoxides detector inspections. Introduced in mid-February by the BFD’s Fire Prevention Division, the online application process now requires payments be made prior to an inspection being scheduled. Email notices will be issued once an application has been processed to alert applicants that payments may be accepted, as well as once the inspection has been scheduled to notify applicants of the inspection date. As in the past, inspections will be scheduled on a first-come, first-serve basis. For questions or concerns, contact the Boston Fire Dept. at [email protected] or call 617-343-3628.
Smoke and CO Inspection
GBREB NEWS

GBREB Public Statement:  Proposed Boston Gas Ban

On August 16, 2022, Greg Vasil, CEO of the Greater Boston Real Estate Board, issued the following statement in response to Mayor Wu's move to seek to ban fossil fuels in the construction of new buildings in Boston: 

“While we share and admire Mayor Wu’s dedication to combatting climate change, we are deeply concerned by fully banning fossil fuels from new construction and the negative impacts such a blunt change will have on the critical need for housing production. Construction costs are already too high due to inflation and national supply chain challenges. Banning fossil fuels in new developments will only increase costs further. This ban would be especially problematic in a city like Boston, which produces huge levels of housing and is an economic engine for all development. Housing production is key to overcoming our state’s housing crisis. Instead of taking part in the state’s pilot program to ban fossil fuels in new developments, we believe the city and state should await the results of the pilot program before considering if and how Boston may implement this ban.”

GBREB Public Statement: Proposed Boston Gas Ban
 

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2023 CBA Achievement Awards
Mar 28, 2024
InterContinental Boston
510 Atlantic Ave
Boston
CBA Women in Commercial Brokerage
Apr 02, 2024
601 Congress St.
Boston
CBA Golf Tournament
Sep 23, 2024
181 Winter Street
Belmont

Calendar

Event
2023 CBA Achievement Awards
InterContinental Boston
5:30pm
 
CBA Women in Commercial Brokerage
601 Congress St.
12:00pm
 
CBA Golf Tournament
181 Winter Street
8:00am