EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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October 27, 2013


Cities, towns bar families, welcome empty-nesters


Multi-family construction, at a virtual standstill in 2009, is picking up again, and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has established a state goal of building 10,000 new multi-family units a year through 2020 to support the state’s economy.

Still, just 5,191 permits were issued for new apartments and condos in 2012, roughly half the governor’s goal, according to the U.S. Census.

Clark Ziegler, executive director of the nonprofit Massachusetts Housing Partnership, which advocates for affordable housing, said the economy suffers when homes are unaffordable for young families.

“If we make it needlessly difficult for families with school-age kids we will artificially constrain job growth,” he said.

Already, the tight housing inventory is adding upward pressure on home values and monthly rents, making Massachusetts one of the nation’s most expensive addresses.

Median home values for single-family homes in Massachusetts rose to $325,000 during the first eight months of the year, a 12 percent increase over last year’s figures, according to the Warren Group, a Boston-based company that tracks local real estate. Rents are even higher. The average two-bedroom apartment costs $1,271 a month, making the Bay State the seventh most expensive state in the country for renters, according to the Washington, DC-based nonprofit National Low Income Housing Coalition.

Three-bedroom apartments account for just 6 percent of new rental housing units built between 2002 and 2012 in Massachusetts under the state’s 40B affordable housing law, according to the Citizens Planning and Housing Association, a nonprofit housing advocacy group based in Boston.

Meanwhile, the number of projects restricted to buyers over the age of 55 has risen dramatically, according to the nonprofit group.

Developers built roughly 20,000 age-restricted condos, townhomes and apartments from 2000 through 2009, according to PrimeTime Communities, a Littleton-based company that does research for home developers. That’s out of more than 58,000 building permits for new units that were issued across Massachusetts during the same period, Census numbers show.

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