Residents seek stronger affordable-housing rules in Boston

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Boston officials say they’re looking to toughen up affordable-housing rules as advocates and residents pushed the city in a hearing Monday to make changes to help lower-income residents keep up with the rising cost of housing.

Residents and advocates spoke about the rising cost of putting a roof over their heads in Boston, saying the city government needs to do more.

“People in Boston are struggling,” said Kadineyse Paz of Boston Tenant Coalition.

“I want the residents actually to have a voice rather than the people who own the land,” said East Boston resident Stephen Mahoot.

They were among dozens of residents and advocates who spoke during a hearing Monday night about the Inclusionary Development Policy, Boston’s requirements on residential developers to provide some affordable housing with most projects.

Sheila Dillon, the city’s housing chief, and Tim Davis of the Boston Planning and Development Agency said they hope to have an update to the IDP by the fall.

Currently, most developers who build more than nine units have to make 13% of them income restricted, create off-site affordable housing or pay into a housing fund. For rentals, “affordable” means geared toward households that make $50,000 to $80,000.

When asked by City Councilors Lydia Edwards, Ed Flynn and Michael Flaherty, who all brought the resolution to hold the hearing, Davis said the city is considering changing around various elements of that, including the minimum number of units that makes the IDP kick in.

“We are interested in setting the triggering to a lower count,” Davis said.

Lori Hurlebaus of Dorchester told the councilors, “I probably will be pushed out. Create an IDP policy the reflects the needs of the people that live here. If you don’t match those needs, you’re going to create a whole new Boston … You’re going to force out working people — especially people of color.”

Edwards, the city councilor who represents East Boston and Charlestown, said, “We need to go big on this. … Government needs to do its job and counter the market forces.”