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How the City Creates Affordable Housing

We ask for development proposals from nonprofit and for-profit developers through Requests for Proposals. These proposals must create or preserve affordable housing in the City of Boston.

The City of Boston may sell land or buildings to developers at discounted prices. The City may also offer federal and local funds to provide loans with favorable terms. Developments can create affordable rental units or homes. Proposals may include new single, two-family, and multi-unit homes, and renovations to existing and vacant buildings.

Throughout the development process, we work with the community, keeping neighbors updated on progress and delays. We also expect developers to use our support to find other sources of public and private funding.

Developer Intake Meetings

Developers interested in growing Boston’s stock of affordable housing work directly in partnership with city agencies from the inception of a project.

In accordance with the city’s Executive Order Streamlining the Approval of Affordable Housing, an intra-agency committee meets with developers to intake projects and certify them for accelerated review.

These intake sessions and the ensuing certification process apply to projects where 60 percent of the units plan on being income restricted at 100 percent of AMI or below.

Sign Up for an Intake Session

The City offers intake sessions for developers to present their projects to staff from the Mayor’s Office of Housing, the Boston Planning & Development Agency, and the Inspectional Services Department. 

In these conversations, developers describe their project and proposed site, the number of anticipated units and affordability levels, as well as any preliminary design concepts, zoning analyses or early stage financial models. City staff will provide feedback on the proposed project and offer guidance on next steps. 

If the project is ready to advance to a formal filing process, staff will issue a project certification for accelerated permitting after the session.

Requests for proposals

Through Requests for Proposals, we make federal and local funds available to support affordable housing. 

Developers use public and private resources to complete their projects.

To help create a smooth development, many Requests for Proposals include in one package the land at a discounted price, and some of the funding needed for development.

Rental developments usually service a mix of incomes. For proposals with 10 units or more, we require that at least 10 percent of the units be set aside for homeless households.

We support developers throughout their projects, and can help find eligible tenants for rental buildings


All proposals must meet our underwriting policies and our standards for:

  • accessibility
  • sustainability
  • good design, and
  • community support.

Ownership proposals also need to meet our standards for livability, owner occupancy, and affordability. We work with developers from concept to construction. This helps ensure that a proposal becomes a success.


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