Activists push for stronger 'inclusionary development'

Tenant activists last Monday delivered 1,000 signed postcards to City Hall urging the mayor and city council to broaden and strengthen Boston’s Inclusionary Development Policy (IDP), which requires that market-rate housing developments with ten or more units set aside a portion of those units for income-restricted housing or pay into a city fund to subsidy housing projects. 

“[People] and representatives from many organizations across the city, including a good amount of Dorchester constituents, gathered,” said Kathy Brown, coordinator at the Boston Tenant Coalition. According to Brown, a group of about 45 people brought the postcards into City Hall and talked to staff. 

The campaign— organized by the Boston Inclusionary Development Coalition —calls on the city to set aside one-third of units in each building as affordable and to ensure that developers don’t evade the rules by building multiple nine-unit buildings. IDP regulations currently apply to new buildings with ten or more units.

The advocates also called on councillors to pass a Home Rule petition introduced by Mayor Walsh that would codify and fortify the IDP in the city’s zoning code.  The council voted unanimously in favor of Walsh’s proposal at last Wednesday’s meeting.

“Amending references to the IDP clarify that inclusionary development is no longer limited to policy, it is now subject to public hearings and zoning approvals,” said At- Large City Councillor Michael Flaherty.

Data show that the IDP program has had a significant impact on creating new affordable units. In 2018, 546 inclusionary units were completed and 834 more were under construction or permitted, according to a study released by the Walsh administration earlier this year.

The IDP Coalition includes 26 different organizations, including Greater Four Corners Action Coalition, Bowdoin Geneva Neighborhood Association, Dot Not 4 Sale, and JP Neighborhood Development Corporation.