Boston Mayor Kim Janey, then a city councilor, stands in the Boston City Council Chambers. Photo by Isabel Leon | Boston Mayor's Office/File

Acting Mayor Kim Janey supports updating Boston’s inclusionary development policy including potential changes to maximum household income and the required sizes of affordable units.

At a forum hosted by nonprofit advocacy group Housing Forward Massachusetts, Janey said updates to the IDP would be one of multiple strategies to address Boston’s affordability crisis.

“Right now [the IDP] is limited and we want to raise that up, but we want to do that in a way that is mindful and ensures we can continue to grow the housing stock we need in the city of Boston,” Janey said.

The potential updates include adjusting the maximum household incomes for the affordable units, and applying the policy to smaller developments. Currently, the IDP applies to proposed multifamily developments with 10 or more units and those that require zoning relief.

Developers are required to include a minimum 13 percent income-restricted units on-site, or pay a fee ranging from $200,000 to $380,000 per affordable unit to support outside affordable housing projects in the vicinity of the property.

Janey said she supports retaining the option of developers including on-site units or paying the so-called “cash out” fee.

“We want to be mindful that in some cases we need the flexibility to say the affordability is really needed here on-site, or we could benefit if we put it close to the original project but somewhere else,” she said.

One of Janey’s challengers, At-Large City Councilor At-Large Annissa Essaibi George, supports increasing the IDP affordability minimum from 13 to 20 percent of total units.

Developers have cautioned that increasing the affordable minimums will make it harder to finance projects and hurt overall housing production.

Janey said her housing production strategy focuses on addressing the middle-income market that has been underserved by recent development patterns.

“Much of the production was either deeply affordable or very, very expensive. We have to be very intentional as we think about housing in Boston ensuring the housing is for working families,” she said.

In March, Janey awarded $50 million in federal funding for rental assistance to help Boston residents avoid eviction. The city’s Community Preservation Committee in April awarded $5 million for a first-time home buyer program including discounted mortgages for low- and moderate-income homebuyers.

“Home ownership is deeply, deeply important to me as I see it not only as a way to stabilize our communities, but a way to break the cycle of poverty and build generational wealth,” Janey said, recalling her own experiences with housing instability including a week-long stay in a homeless center for women and children.

Janey Open to Boston Affordability Rules Changes

by Steve Adams time to read: 2 min