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Executive order to streamline approval of affordable housing in Boston

The Mayor made the announcement during her speech to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce at their annual Government Affairs Forum. This executive order is a response to the challenges facing Boston’s housing market in order to remove barriers and make the process for developing affordable housing easier across the city.

The current process to approve affordable housing can take as long as 337 days. This executive order aims to reduce that time in half. The executive order consists of five components designed to increase the speed by which affordable housing projects are approved for development:

  • Create a more efficient path for Article 80 development review and approval

  • Study and address zoning challenges to affordable housing development

  • Prioritize affordable housing in the development review processes

  • Create a system to track affordable housing reviews and approvals

  • Establish a governance structure to ensure effective implementation

The order directs the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) to recommend changes to Article 80 of the Boston Zoning Code to establish an alternative path for the review of affordable housing developments. The new process will include community engagement and thorough agency review, but also establish clear and accelerated timelines. The order directs that any currently required review processes not take place if there was previous community engagement during the disposition of City- or BPDA-owned land that is proposed for affordable housing development. To eliminate barriers to affordable housing development, the BPDA will study and address zoning challenges to affordable housing development. Within 120 days, the BPDA will issue a report on potential Boston Zoning Code changes that would incentivize the creation of affordable housing while minimizing the need for variances or other permitting burdens for these projects.

The order directs the relevant agencies, boards, and commissions of City government to immediately give affordable developments priority status on any and all meeting schedules. It also directs these agencies to evaluate existing review requirements to identify those that can be done concurrently and those that are potentially unnecessary.

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