"I'm very glad the governor has set a goal," said Marc Draisen, executive director of the regional Metropolitan Area Planning Council. "What we really need is multifamily homes." The goal of building 10,000 new housing units close to workplaces, public transportation and city and village centers will be incentivized through several programs including Compact Neighborhoods and Chapter 40R. The council predicts the housing initiative will help the Boston area "expand by 120,000 households - most of them younger families - between 2010 and 2020."
The housing plan, writes Jenifer B. McKim, comes "amid a growing chorus of housing specialists who are stressing the importance of building more higher-density housing." As the demand for suburban single-family homes weakens, a study by the nonprofit Boston Foundation "calls for the state to double or triple its housing development in the region as young professionals and baby boomers compete for the same types of homes in Suffolk, Essex, Middlesex, Plymouth, and Norfolk counties."
"We are trying to promote more compact development, affordable and market-rate housing near centers, near transit, and where jobs are being created," said Aaron Gornstein, the undersecretary for the Massachusetts Housing and Community Development. The housing plan encourages high-density growth by offering incentives such as "priority access to state funding for infrastructure improvements" and the bypass of certain zoning restrictions.
However, reports McKim, other housing specialists like Harvard University economist Edward Glaeser are "skeptical that families will want to live in multifamily complexes without urban amenities" and question "whether 10,000 units will be enough to meet growing housing needs."