Building for the Middle: Housing Greater Boston's Workforce

Across Metro Boston, there is a growing sense that the housing problems that one affected only low-income families are now affecting a greater number of households at higher and higher incomes. Many people fear that high housing prices are driving middle income middle-income families out of their neighborhood, and out of the region. To help shed light on these issues, the Data Services Research team analyzed household characteristics, income trends, and housing costs since 1990, with a focus on "middle income" households. We also projected the amount and type of housing that will be needed to accommodate new working households over the coming 15 years.

Results of this analysis were published in an Urban Land Institute (ULI) report entitled Building for the Middle: Housing Greater Boston's Workforce. Key findings of the report include:

  • Housing cost burden for middle-income working households has increased dramatically since 1990s
  • Dozens of exclusive municipalities have discouraged the construction of moderately-priced housing, and as a result fewer than one in ten sales is affordable to a household earning $75,000 per year.
  • High development costs in the region, especially in the Inner Core, make it difficult to deliver units affordable to middle income households
  • A growing economy in Metro Boston will require more than 800,000 new workers by 2030, who will form over 500,000 households. After accounting for housing turnover, at least 200,000 units of workforce housing, at a variety of price points, are needed to meet demand.
  • The continuing growth in low-income working households suggests that economic changes are needed to fully resolve the region’s housing crisis. Continued wage polarization threatens to create a perpetually growing low-income workforce for which there are few sustainable housing solutions, whether production, subsidy, or filtering.

Read the Report.