Councilors To Discuss Establishing an Affordable Housing Demolition Permit-Fee

Special to the Patriot-Bridge

Boston City Councilor Gabriela Coletta, Councilor At-Large Ruthzee Louijeune, and Councilor Brian Worrell will hold a working session to discuss establishing an affordable housing demolition permit fee on Tuesday, October 10 at 10 am via Zoom.

The ordinance sets to increase the fee from fifty ($50) to fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000) for demolishing any single-family detached residential structure or any multi-family, single-family attached to create funding for affordable housing from small property demolitions that result in luxury condominiums under the IDP threshold. The Councilors filed this ordinance in response to the necessity for increased affordable housing citywide and to disincentivize developers from tearing down neighborhood homes to create unattainable housing for low-income neighbors. 

“In East Boston, we are growing and developing far too rapidly while pricing out residents and with a small pool of affordable units. This proposal will capture steady affordability funds for tear downs that result in 9 unit or less luxury buildouts. Increasing the current demolition fee would go directly into the Neighborhood Trust Fund to preserve and expand affordable housing for low and moderate-income residents while encouraging smart, responsible growth in our city,” said Councilor Coletta. 

Similar legislation has been implemented in Evanston, Illinois and in many municipalities across the country. Like Boston, Evanston has experienced a loss of affordability with significant impacts from gentrification. Since its establishment in 2006, the demolition fee has generated over a million dollars in revenue for affordable housing, which is the impact the Councilors hope to see in Boston. 

“In Boston, the issue of housing affordability looms large. The average family now faces housing costs that have surged to levels beyond their means, and the availability of housing that could make renting or owning more affordable has dwindled. The proposed Affordable Housing Demolition Permit Fee Ordinance’s primary goal is to tackle the urgent problem of housing affordability without disrupting supply, with exceptions made for demolitions intended to build affordable housing. I look forward to the opportunity to discuss and refine the details during the upcoming working session,” said Councilor Louijeune. 

Highlights of the Order Include:

“WHEREAS, Development in growing communities across Boston has continued to move at a rapid pace, yet the abundance of development has not yielded opportunities for affordable living in these neighborhoods; and

WHEREAS, Historically neighborhoods like East Boston and Mattapan consist of single-family, two-family, and multi-family residential structures, and it is vital that the City of Boston is able to maintain buildings of historic significance that contribute to neighborhood character, while investing in various funnels of funding for the creation of affordable housing; and

WHEREAS, The rapid pace of new development in Boston has adversely impacted the aesthetic of the neighborhood as many family homes are being demolished and replaced by structures of multiple units that do not embody the history of each unique Boston neighborhood; and

WHEREAS, The current demolition permit fee structure only includes a small primary fee of fifty ($50.00) dollars plus an additional ten ($10.00) dollars for each thousand ($1,000.00) dollars of the fair cost of the work authorized by such permit as determined by said Commissioner; and

WHEREAS, Furthermore, the fee structure does not address smaller residential buildings and does not take into account the significance that such buildings hold over the character of the neighborhood. It also does not contribute to any resources that supply investments in affordable housing opportunities; and

WHEREAS, Having a demolition permit fee structure that specifically relates to smaller residential buildings will encourage the preservation of such buildings and will contribute to the aesthetic quality and character of the neighborhood, while also providing resources to mend Boston’s affordable housing crisis,”

The working session will be held under the Committee on Government Operations, chaired by Councilor Ricardo Arroyo. This working session will not include a public comment period although folks are encouraged to attend.

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