From its inception in 2002, the Greater Boston Housing Report Card has chronicled a remarkable period that saw housing prices soar and then plummet during the Great Recession, only to rise again with the region’s economic recovery. During the past five years, prices and rents have increased to the point where housing costs as a share of income have increased sharply for a growing proportion of the region’s households.
This 12th report in the series opens a new chapter in our housing studies, one that assigns a central role to demographic change. In brief, our analysis of the data reveals that Greater Boston is not only experiencing a serious housing shortage, but also an escalating mismatch between the type of available housing and the type of housing most desired by its two fastest growing demographic clusters: aging baby boomers and young millennials. With the metro economy robust and growing, the local housing market is increasingly “out of sync” with demand. As a result, where young millennials are making due by doubling up and tripling up in multi-unit housing in Boston and its nearby communities, working families for which such housing was originally built are being squeezed out. Many aging baby boomers are seeking smaller housing units, but finding it difficult to locate such units at affordable prices in the communities where they have lived for much of their adult lives.
Like past reports, the current Greater Boston Housing Report Card analyzes housing volume and construction starts, home prices and rents, and federal, state, and local government policies that affect the five-county region’s housing market. This year’s report also furthers an analysis introduced in 2013: an assessment of local zoning regulations that play a critical role in the development— or lack thereof— of housing units consistent with economic and demographic projections for the region.
Visit the Commonwealth Housing Task Force to view past report cards and for additional housing-related information.