Boston updates list showing how much you can make to apply for an 'affordable' apartment or condo

The BPDA is out with its 2019 affordable-housing numbers, which the city uses to determine the most a family can make to apply for one of the "affordable" apartments or condos developers are required to build or pay for in exchange for approval of their projects.

The numbers are based on the Boston-area median income, with "affordable" being defined as up to 100% of that amount, based on the number of people in your family. Some projects rent or sell their units to people who make less than that amount, though, so the BPDA provides figures for those categories as well.

Any project that goes through the BPDA approval process (which are all projects with at least 10 market-rate units that needs an exemption from its lot's zoning) has to either have at least 13% of the units set aside as "affordable" or build an equivalent number of units nearby (or pay the BPDA money for an affordable-housing fund it runs).



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Boston does more to create

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Boston does more to create affordable housing from private development than any other city in the country. That says more about other cities than Boston, which doesn't do enough as is but at least is trying.

If this pisses you off, tell your state legislator to support the Housing Choice bill so that vocal minorities cannot stop needed new housing in suburban communities. Boston cannot do this alone yet is being forced to by antiquated state law.


Newark, NJ

A developer has to set aside 20% of units for affordable housing and they can't pay their way out of it.

And, before the "but you have to live in Newark" comments, I would suggest going there. There's a shitload of development going on as more and more people are priced out of NYC/Hoboken/Jersey City.


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Let's say I retired a year ago and don't have any social security and little interest income (but $2 million in an IRA). I can buy one of these units for a few hundred thousand because I qualify this year and then rent my place out starting next year and use the proceeds to pay for the unit I'm now renting out and also for whatever costs for my new place?

May be tougher on the rentals - guessing you have to qualify each year (and if your income goes up "just enough" you have to move out?) And again - what if you have little reportable income, but boatloads of money in the bank?

Seems like a system that can be easily gamed if you understand the rules.

Plus, as discussed many times, forcing developers to do this drives up costs and makes marginal developments too costly. The result is lower supply and higher prices - meaning we just need more "affordable" units. Vicious circle.


You can't out your unit if

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You can't out your unit if you purchased through this affordable program. Do you really think you're the only person who would have thought of that?

In fact I owned one of these units and when the economy crashed I could not sell it because it was the same price as the market rate units (sales price is determined by how much you paid) but it had the deed restriction. I couldn't rent it either.

After almost two years, it was removed the affordable housing rolls and put on the open market at a loss to me, who has spent my whole life working in non-profits. In the end I am fine, but there are still a lot of risks even with the initial reduced price.

No System is Perfect

And many can be gamed. Look at how Trump claimed a billion plus dollars in losses so he didn't have to pay any taxes. Both what you describe and what Trump did seem to be totally legal. However, this imperfect system of affordable housing does keep many hard working families out of shelters and off the streets. Hopefully the children that benefit from this program will become successful enough to not need affordable housing when they're older. Dare I say, successful enough that they can game the tax system later in life.

yeah somebody with 2mil in an

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yeah somebody with 2mil in an IRA is definitely the person looking for "affordable housing"

also while i know you're basically a ferengi when it comes to these things, but have you ever thought about making real estate accessible for more people might mean they actually get a chance to acquire wealth and generate more sales for you? You've proven repeatedly how short sighted and fygm you are, but have you ever actually thought about how maybe long term investments in the disenfranchised might actually make you MORE money in the long run?

your entire industry is based off of flouting rules and regulations and lobbying for ordinances to be removed/added I think it's kind of hypocritical for you to talk about this gaming the system boogeyman like its something that you yourself do not actively do. not to mention how this is a dogwhistle for "I don't want poor black people in my community" which of course, you didn't SAY but given your responses to this topic every time it comes up I'm pretty comfortable calling you out as a racist and classist who is trying frantically to pull the ladder up behind you as you pursue your rules of acquisition.

i'm looking forward to when the guillotines come out because landlords and real estate people are first up against the wall

Wow, so much red meat!

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1) 2 million buys you a lifetime income of about $80-100kk (more if you annuitize, separate discussion). Exactly who these target.

2) nothing to do with long or short-term, ferrngi, fygm or anything else. Econ 101. Subsidies drive up costs. The only people benefiting from these (disproportionately government workers by some reports), are those that win the lottery to get them. The subsidy drives up housing costs for the other 90% and creates this spiral. It doesn't alleviate anything for the unfortunate many.

3) you got the wrong industry. Go talk to the brokers, not the investment advisors. We are not the problem you speak of.

4) Racist? nice lazy argument. You want to help poor minorities, get rid of crappy givesway programs like this. You've fallen hook line and sinker for this illogical crap. It hurts way more than it helps.


Somewhere in the between…

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Rent control is famously gamed and destructive. I'm with you that I'm guessing most people in the above described boat probably aren't looking for affordable units en masse (if some may exist).

Still, the fix for our housing is more housing. Growing to 6 story units across the city. Reducing minimum parking, minimum square footage in units. Getting surrounding towns with MBTA stations to increase density.

Until we do that, affordable designated units are simply trying to save your sinking boat with a Dixie cup. It's a lottery for a few while the general system goes up in flames.

We've legislated affordable housing out of existence, and need to roll it back.

Not true.

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Not true.

More housing at these sky high rates just raises the avg square foot pricing for everything in the neighborhood. Go look at a new development in JP with rates you need easily into the 6 figures to afford. Do you see neighboring rental prices dropping because that building is added? No, you see the opposite.

We don't live in a bubble with a static population. More/different people can move in and we can replace one population with a wealthier one.

No you can't. They look at

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No you can't. They look at your tax returns, bank accounts, IRAs, mortgage approval, etc. before you can even enter a lottery. If you are lucky enough to win a lottery, the deed is restricted.

asset cap

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A person such as your example would not qualify for an affordable unit. There is an asset cap of $75K.

The lotteries also give preference to first-time home buyers.

I have review affordable

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I have review affordable housing applications for many years. People do lie. Usually to get them to rent them out at market rate. We can tell if an application looks odd or has incomplete or false information and usually catch them.

There is an asset cap of $75

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There is an asset cap of $75-100k if you are under 65 and an asset cap of under $250k for people 65 and older. This scenario isn't even possible.

Asset Limits

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There are also asset limits. Asset Limits do not include retirement accounts. Does include real estate.

Asset Limits
Properties set aside for incomes of less than 80% AMI: $75,000
Properties set aside for incomes more than 80% AMI: $100,000
Applicants for rental units where all household members are over the age of 65 years: $250,000,-asset,-and-price-limits

I've heard that there is an asset cap. What is the cap?

The asset cap applies to households who are interested in renting or purchasing an income restricted/affordable home. For units targeted to households at or below 80% of Area Median Income, the combined total assets of the household cannot exceed $75,000. For a household applying for a unit above the 80% income category, the combined total assets of the entire household cannot exceed $100,000. All liquid assets and real property are counted towards the cap except government approved college savings accounts, HSA accounts, and qualified retirement plans such as 401(k) plans, other IRA’s, Keogh plans, and pension plans, unless they are being liquidated to purchase a property. Applicants for affordable rental units can exceed the asset limitations if all of the household members are over the age of 65 years. In this instance, a household can have combined assets, including all retirement funds, of no more than $250,000. Real estate is valued by the current assessed value of real estate by the municipality or county. An individual’s actual equity in the real estate is not considered.

Aha, there's the catch

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$250k including IRAs etc.

So wiuld be hard to game the system, but probably still possible with creative trusts.

The main point remains, this does nothing to lower housing costs. It limitscsupply and raises costs for all but the lucky lottery winners.

No rentals

After more than 4 years of applications, I was #2 on a list for a condo development, I purchased in 2017. Rental of the unit is prohibited, and the BPDA is ridiculously adamant about that. The unit actually has two deed holders, me and the BPDA. Rental violation results in a lawsuit and BPDA sues the unit owner for damages. They also encourage the condo board and neighbors to keep tabs on the owner and they even have a anonymous tip line that you can call and report somebody who is violating the deed covenant.

If and when I’m ready to sell my unit then I have to contact the BPDA and they will set this maximum sale price, only allowing for profit of 3% per year compounded.

The deed restriction expires only if I own the unit for 50 years, so I’m all set to cash out when I’m 107.

Interesting sidenote, I’m single but should I get married, then I cannot add my spouse to the deed of my home. I would have to sell the home and then re-qualify to buy it from myself using our new combined married income. Future buyers will have to qualify using current guidelines, but that sale doesn’t have to done as a lottery.

So you're saying developers

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So you're saying developers are just squeaking by? With barely any profit? With no room at all to have less money going to this small group of people at the expense of city residents?

Don't buy it.

On the margin, yes

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Developers take HUGE risks. Recently walked by some developments in the West Side of Manhattan
They are building lije crazy just as prices are peaking. Some of these will probably just break even and some will lise their shirt as Manhattan prices seem to have peaked. Boston probably not far behind. Both will recover, but for tjose of ys that remember the 80s, it could take years. Real estate is a high stakes poker game with mostly winners as interest rates dropped. If/when that reverses, look out below.


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20% of households qualify for these and applied and are sitting on a waiting list for such a unit?

That alone is evidence of gaming. And thar these houses are too cheap. And people complain about the government giving away free street parking!


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I am right in that sweet spot where, as a single person, I can't afford to buy on my own, but don't qualify for any affordable units due to income and/or being single. So should I have a bunch of kids... or quit my job and take something less stressful for less money so I can afford to buy one of these units? Hmmm.


Be a reasonable person

Or you could just be a reasonable person and pursue whatever dreams and goals you have. If you do that and end up qualifying for this program then I suppose that's good. If you do that and don't qualify and can't find an affordable place to live in Boston that's a shame, but there are other places to live. I don't recommend getting married and having children (or just having children) in order to qualify for affordable housing. But if that is your goal and dream (to qualify for affordable housing) then I guess you should do whatever it takes to get there.


I wouldn't brush off this

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I wouldn't brush off this posters concerns like it's so beneath you.

This is a large segment of voters and no one is speaking to them, if they do - it kinda sounds like condescending crap like your post.

His problem is reasonable

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Just not reasonably explained.

If you're single and make a good income (say, $100,000/yr). You're too poor to afford most condos for sale at full price in the city. Certainly nothing newly built or newly renovated.

A search of zillow with a cap of $400,000 usually finds 1-2 dozen places that aren't a shambles and those are almost all entirely in Mattapan or Ashmont.

You're too rich to afford any of the affordable income housing which would put you in a nice new condo somewhere downtown, maybe even a staffed building, with a gym even.

It's an ugly middle ground that isn't encompassed by any politician's concerns....or policies...or anything. You're damned if you complain because as a single person with a six-figure salary, people would be right to think you're doing pretty well for yourself. You're damned if you don't, because you pay your increasing rent going into someone else's pocket and keep hoping some random golden nugget shows up that you might be able to afford but are at the complete whimzy of the market.


gross or net income?

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I can only assume that these income figures are gross, not net, but no matter how hard I've looked I just can't find anywhere that specifies if AMI is gross income or net income.