Revised IDP Now Before Zoning Commission

Opportunity for public comment on November 8th

The Boston City Council voted in September in favor of adding an updated Inclusionary Development Policy (IDP) to the City’s Zoning Code. It will now head for final approval to the Boston Zoning Commission on Wednesday, November 8th at 9 A.M. with an opportunity for the public to comment. The IDP requires developers to support affordable housing in one of three ways: develop on-site affordable units, develop off-site affordable units, or contribute to the IDP Fund for the City to support the creation of affordable housing. The City’s goals with the proposed changes to the IDP are to increase the availability of affordable housing in Boston, encourage development of larger units, and provide more deeply affordable housing options. If adopted, it would take effect October 1, 2024. The key changes are below and a detailed comparison can be found here.

Scope: Currently, IDP applies only to projects with 10 or more units that require zoning relief or utilize City funding or land. The proposal would apply to all projects of 7 or more units, regardless of their zoning status or City involvement in the project. This would expand the number of developments in the City that must provide affordable housing.

Project Size: The proposed policy establishes different requirements for small projects (< 50,000 sq.ft.) and large projects (≥ 50,000 sq.ft.), with larger projects having to provide a higher percentage of affordable units or correspondingly higher cash contributions. The proposal eliminates the option for small rental and homeowner projects to comply by building off-site units.

More Income-Restricted Units: The proposal increases the proportion of on-site units that must be income-restricted. However, developers would be allowed to provide fewer than that number of units if the same proportion of the project’s total square footage is income-restricted. Through this change, the City aims to encourage the creation of larger units more conducive to families as opposed to small, studio-style units.

Affordability: To create units that are more obtainable for those with lower incomes, the maximum Area Median Income (AMI) would be lowered on rental on-site units. Additionally, for large projects, 3% of rental on-site units would be required to be set aside for voucher holders, who generally have incomes less than 30% of AMI.

Cash Contributions: Developers contributing to the IDP Fund would do so on a square footage rate rather than per unit. The policy sets new rates which vary by zone, with higher cash contributions occurring in zones with higher relative rental and sales prices. Projects fulfilling IDP requirements fully through cash contributions would be subject to approval by the Mayor’s Office of Housing.

Click here for a PDF of this Research Update

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