Another report on the state of the Massachusetts real-estate market, another conclusion that stakeholders already know: Most commonwealth communities aren't willing to produce enough affordable housing units to meet the burgeoning demand.
The report, released Tuesday and compiled by researcher Amy Dain on behalf of organizations that have been clamoring for housing production legislation — including the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance — found that restrictive zoning bylaws, applied with political considerations, contributes to a lack of multifamily units in Massachusetts.
Dain's study showed that many of the 100 communities around Boston — excluding the city itself — apply restrictions that prevent sufficient construction of homes that can fit multiple tenants.
A recent annual Greater Boston Housing Report Card reaffirmed that conclusion. It found that Boston alone accounted for 41% of all new housing permits issued in 2017.
That obviously means the rest of the state, especially the suburbs, aren't doing enough to provide affordable housing in their communities.
The 123-page report basically regurgitated all the reasons why housing is so expensive in this state, from restrictive zoning bylaws to limiting affordable housing to the outskirts of a community, rather than its more accessible center.
"No municipality out of 100 is allowing, right now, as much multifamily housing to be built as the market demands," Dain said.
From 2015 to 2017, the vast majority of multifamily units in the Greater Boston communities Dain studied required active discretionary choices by the host municipalities to be constructed, with about 57% under special permits and 22% under the state's Chapter 40B affordable housing program.
That's why builders are reluctant to wade into the weeds that comes with building affordable housing in communities fighting it at every turn.
Dain said communities should update their zoning policies to make multifamily construction easier to launch and commit to increasing density and easing height restrictions.
This report adds to the mounting evidence that without basic housing-reform legislation, Massachusetts risks further economic growth due its unaffordable real estate prices.
Some lawmakers and Gov. Charlie Baker both recognize the need for more affordable housing stock, as do many of the state's business leaders.
A bill refiled by the governor would reduce the threshold needed for zoning changes at the local level from a two-thirds majority to a simple majority, something that several speakers at Tuesday's forum explicitly supported.
It's not the answer to all the state's housing challenges, but it would be a vital first step that could spur additional momentum for more development, better access to affordable housing, and other reforms, including ways to protect tenants from rapidly increasing rents or evictions.
To date, only the Legislature's reluctance to change the stagnant status quo has kept these needed reforms from becoming law.
"We do all these studies ... and all it does is get worse," Jeff Rhuda, business development manager at Symes Associates, told the State House News Service. "Something has to be done."
We're with Jeff.
It's time lawmakers got with the program and pass legislation to ease this unsustainable housing affordability crisis.