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The Greater Boston Housing Report Card 2016

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Authors: Barry Bluestone, Catherine Tumber, James Huessy, and Tim Davis

Nearly every year that the Dukakis Center has published its annual Housing Report Card, we have concluded that Greater Boston needs more — and more appropriate — housing to keep the market even marginally affordable for low-income residents, working families, and a growing segment of the middle class. The unifying theme of this, our 14th edition, is that in spite of a strong commitment to making housing more affordable in the region and despite a variety of imaginative efforts put forward by the Commonwealth and the City of Boston, housing supply is not keeping up with the housing demand of a growing population and, as a result, housing is less affordable than ever.

Moreover, with our projection of continued population growth through at least 2030, led by large increases in the number of Millennials and seniors, an enormous expansion in housing construction will be necessary to come anywhere close to meeting housing demand. Thus, with all due respect to the impressive endeavors put forward to date, the Commonwealth and the Greater Boston region will need to implement largescale innovative approaches to building the housing we need.

As usual, we have refreshed our data on the state of the Massachusetts economy and Greater Boston’s housing volume, sales, prices, rents, and permitting, and updated our review of state and local housing policy. In addition, we have introduced two methodological innovations that shed clearer light on our economic and housing challenges: We have added to the mix a more accurate cost of living adjustment that, when taken into account, indicates that our regional poverty rate is much higher than official thresholds suggest (some 55,000 families higher), and we have included population growth projections through 2030 that, because they are expected to escalate, will bring even greater pressure to bear on the housing market in the years to come.

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