Donít Like 40B? Plan for Affordable Housing
Posted by Miriam Axel-Lute on August 21, 2009
It seems that opponents of Massachusetts’s “40B” affordable housing law, which lets developers build higher density housing in unaffordable communities if they set aside affordable units, are gearing up for another petition drive to repeal it. They say this time they are “more frustrated and more organized” than last time they tried, when they didn’t get enough signatures, and they expect to succeed.
That may or may not be true. But housing advocates are worried about it, certainly, in this time of unemployment and increased demand for rental as foreclosures soar.
I certainly sympathize with residents who are frustrated with developers who don’t have to play by the rules. I generally think affordable housing developments on sensitive wetlands, for example, are a bad idea.
But rather than just saying “40B is needed so people will be able to live near good jobs in Massachusetts” (which is a damn good argument), I really wish it were politically feasible to also send a message more like this:
bq. Your problems are because your rules/zoning are exclusionary. Change them, and do some proactive planning to figure out how to let more people afford to live in your town, and you won’t be subject to 40B. Problem solved.
About the author more ¬Ľ
Miriam Axel-Lute is editor of Shelterforce and associate director of the National Housing Institute. Her email is miriam at nhi dot org.