WASHINGTON, D.C. – Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh has been appointed Housing Chair for the United States Conference of Mayors Community Development and Housing Committee.
In his role as Chair, Mayor Walsh will lead the Conference’s work on housing, and work with mayors across the country to tackle housing and community development challenges. Mayor Walsh was appointed chair during the 86th Winter Meeting of the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) in Washington, D.C.
“Housing is a key fundamental to my goal in Boston, and our goal as a nation: to create and sustain a strong middle class,” said Mayor Walsh. “I look forward to sharing the successes of Boston’s hard work with my fellow cities, and look forward to learning even more from my fellow mayors about what housing strategies have worked in their cities.”
Additional leadership members of the committee include Mayor Jorge O. Elorza, Providence, RI, Vice Chair; Mayor Ed Pawlowski, Allentown, PA, Vice Chair; and Mayor John Giles, Mesa, AZ, Vice Chair for Workforce Housing.
“With cities like Boston and Seattle facing many shared challenges as we work to make more affordable housing available and help our neighbors experiencing homelessness move toward permanent housing, I look forward to collaborating with Mayor Walsh in his role as Chair of the Housing and Community Development Committee to help make our cities more affordable, inclusive, and vibrant places to live,” said Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan.
The Walsh Administration has been a leader in ambitious and innovative work to build, sustain, and promote affordable housing for its Boston residents. Housing a Changing City: Boston 2030 is the Walsh Administration’s comprehensive housing plan. Under this plan, Boston will create 53,000 new units of housing at a variety of income levels throughout Boston, including 44,000 units of housing for the workforce; 5,000 units of housing for senior citizens; and 4,000 units to stabilize the market and bring rents and housing prices under control. During his second inaugural address earlier this month, Mayor Walsh also pledged to increase Boston’s targets for low-income homes, moderate-income homes, senior housing, and overall units.
Since the 2014 implementation of Housing a Changing City, 13,551 new units of housing have been completed. With an additional 8,412 units currently under construction, the City has secured housing for an estimated 25,000 residents, making significant progress in meeting Boston’s rapid population growth. The City remains on target to meet the production goals. To date, the Walsh Administration has committed more than $100 million in funding to the creation and preservation of affordable housing.
As part of the Administration’s work to stabilize housing in the City of Boston, it has taken an innovative approach to addressing housing: Mayor Walsh launched both the Office of Housing Stability, responsible for programs that assist Boston residents in a housing crisis — whether due to eviction, landlord-tenant disputes, rent escalations, unplanned loss of housing, or any other rental housing emergency — as well as the Housing Innovation Lab, which pioneers ideas to bring down the cost to build, buy and own homes in the City of Boston.
The Office of Housing Stability develops programs like Boston’s tenants’ rights guide, which works to prevent displacement. The Housing Lab pilots programs like Boston’s Intergenerational Homeshare Pilot, which matches older residents who have a spare bedroom with students seeking an affordable place to stay.
Earlier this week, Mayor Walsh also filed a citywide ordinance establishing guidelines and regulations to better track and regulate short-term rentals in the City of Boston. The new regulations put forth in the ordinance aim to capture the growth of Boston’s growing home-share industry, while including deterrents to help prevent operators from monopolizing Boston’s housing market with short-term rentals. The overall goal of the ordinance is to responsibly incorporate the growth of the home-share industry into Boston’s work to create affordable housing for all.
In addition to Boston’s work to build and maintain housing, Mayor Walsh has also pledged to end chronic homelessness in the City of Boston. Boston has already ended chronic veterans homelessness in Boston. As of October 31, 2017, 413 chronically homeless individuals have been housed in the City of Boston. Boston’s Way Home, the City’s action plan to end chronic homelessness, focuses on a housing-first model. Rather than counting on shelter as the solution to the issue, the housing-first model means an individual’s entrance into the shelter system is also their entrance to a path toward permanent, stable housing.
In his 2018 inauguration speech, Mayor Walsh also announced the launch of Boston’s Way Home Fund, which will raise $10 million over the course of four years. These privately-raised funds will be used to create 200 new units of supportive, sustainable, long-term housing for chronically homeless men and women.