Interesting MIT study re impact of affordable housing projects
From: Chris ScottHanson (
Date: Fri, 8 Jul 2005 07:32:02 -0700 (PDT)
This is an interesting study, referred to below, and should be added to the archives to support cohousing and affordable housing initiatives.

Chris ScottHanson

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Subject: interesting MIT study re impact of
I (an attorney at a firm in Boston who happens to be representing two cohousing groups) attended a meeting the other day of the Boston Bar Association Affordable Housing Committee, at which a faculty member from the MIT Center for Real Estate gave a presentation on a study they have done recently on the impact of (mostly mixed-income) 40B projects on property values in the adjacent neighborhoods. (M.G.L. c. 40B is the Massachusetts comprehensive permit statute, permitting local planning boards to override zoning and other municipal laws for housing projects containing at least 25% affordable units in communities whose housing stock does not contain a specified percentage of units affordable to households at or below 80% AMI.)

In order to gather sufficient data, the study looked, not just at homes immediately abutting the 40B projects, but also at homes within an “impact area” agreed to by both the study designers and local planning officials, taking into account the visibility of the housing projects (some of which were high rises) and other factors. Housing prices were examined taking into account factors such as the age & square footage of the property, when it was last renovated, & number of bedrooms & bathrooms. A total of 7 40B projects in 5 communities were selected for study – they were what might be considered the “most egregious” examples, in which the housing projects were not at all consistent in design or scale with the surrounding neighborhood (for example, a 200+ unit high-rise project in a neighborhood of single-family homes). Prices were studied over an extended period, from the early 1970s until a couple of years ago.

The results are good news for affordable housing folks: the study showed no statistically significant difference in home prices over the 30 year study period, in any of the communities studied.]

Of course, as an abutter’s attorney present at the meeting pointed out, the results might be quite different if you examined only homes immediately abutting the housing project, as opposed to those two blocks away. Still, in terms of the overall neighborhood impact, the information was quite interesting, and may be helpful in dealing with reluctant planning boards - even outside of Massachusetts.

A written report is available on-line at research/hai/pdf/40B_report_HAI_0405.pdf. A copy of the power point presentation shown at the BBA meeting is available on-line at

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