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Boston city councilors are demanding immediate changes to the city’s inclusionary development policy, expressing impatience with the pace of a study on requirements for affordable units in new multifamily projects.

The council unanimously endorsed a resolution Wednesday to expand the policy to apply to all multifamily projects with five or more units, down from the current minimum of 10, and to lower the income requirements for affordable units.

“Every month that goes by, more luxury developments are being approved. We’re losing the chance to get long-term affordable units we need to stabilize our neighborhoods,” District 6 Councilor Kendra Lara said.

The administration has yet to offer an update on an IDP study of the city’s inclusionary development policy, which was last changed in 2015, Lara noted.

Under the council-recommended guidelines, IDP apartments would be reserved for households earning 30 to 70 percent of area median income, with an average of 40 percent. The current maximum AMI is 100 percent in the highest-priced neighborhoods.

For-sale IDP units would be reserved for households earning 50 to 100 percent of AMI.

The changes are subject to approval by Mayor Michelle Wu. Wu has already indicated her support for some of the updates, announcing in December 2021 that she was weighing an executive order to include smaller projects.

“There are so many nine-unit proposals because developers realize there’s a strict cutoff there,” Wu said at the time.

An advisory committee appointed by Wu in April has yet to issue its recommendations.

“We are a year in and we haven’t received an updated timeline to the reform for the IDP from the administration,” Lara said.

In a statement issued Wednesday, the mayor’s office said Wu is awaiting the findings from the study committee.

We are grateful to the City Council for their partnership in advancing housing affordability as the foundation for our growth as a family-friendly city,” the statement said. “We look forward to sharing these findings once the study is complete and taking action in the near future.”

The current policy requires developers to include a minimum of 13 percent income-restricted units on-site or pay a fee ranging from $200,000 to $380,000 per required unit to support affordable projects in the surrounding neighborhood.

Many larger developments have exceeded the minimum percentage since Wu took office, however, with Harvard University and Tishman Speyer agreeing to a 25 percent income-restricted component in Allston and Related Beal including 20 percent affordable units at its Channelside development in Fort Point.

Councilors also have been debating potential changes to Boston’s zoning code to spur more affordability and housing creation.

After eliminating on-site parking requirements for all-affordable housing developments last year, councilors recently discussed offering density bonuses as a stimulus for multifamily projects.

Boston Councilors Want Affordable Units in More Projects

by Steve Adams time to read: 2 min