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Affirmative Fair Housing Marketing

We work to encourage those least likely to apply for housing in Boston to learn about their options.

We promote equal access to income-restricted housing for all persons by establishing policies for public outreach, unit advertising, and tenant and buyer selection.

Our goal is to promote income-restricted housing opportunities in Boston and monitor compliance with fair housing law, and City policies. 

As of September 14, we are changing how the City works with developers and housing seekers to advertise and lease up housing created through the City’s Inclusionary Development Policy (IDP). We are taking steps to make the process simpler, easier to understand, and more transparent. 


Information for Developers

Requesting a Marketing Plan Template 

Affirmative Fair Housing Marketing is required for all developments with five or more units with government assistance, and all income-restricted units under the City of Boston’s Inclusionary Development Program. 

The process begins by requesting an Affirmative Marketing and Tenant Selection Plan template from the City. Once you complete this plan, it will outline your commitment to market units, select applicants, and screen housing seekers in accordance with Affirmative Fair Housing Marketing requirements. 

Plan requirements will differ slightly based on project characteristics. 


Recent Changes to IDP Development Requirements

On September 14, the City made three key changes to requirements for developers of IDP projects:

  1. We separated the previous marketing and tenant selection plan into a new, five-page plan and handbook (Rental Version / Homeownership Version). This handbook will be updated as we continue to make additional changes to our processes. 
  2. We are eliminating the requirement to advertise your development in local newspapers, and doing away with the required compliance submission post advertisement. Instead, the City of Boston will spearhead new, coordinated advertising for all active projects, in both print and digital media. We are also eliminating the on-site application distribution requirements in exchange for virtual attendance at City-hosted information sessions. 
  3. We are posting the results of IDP application lotteries online so lottery applicants can see their place in line. To lower the administrative burden, we are eliminating form submissions previously required to update the City on the applicant process. 


Information for Applicants

We run lotteries for housing projects subject to the Affirmative Fair Housing Marketing Program. 

Applicants can view and apply for open rental and homeownership units on Metrolist, the City’s consolidated search tool for income-restricted housing. 

Once we run a lottery, we post the results below so applicants can see (with an anonymous lottery number) their place on the list for each unit type, and track their status in the process.

Program Information

The affirmative marketing program

On April 17th, 1978, the Boston chapter of the NAACP sued HUD and the city for failing to rectify a long history of racial discrimination in housing, that resulted in heavily segregated housing patterns in Boston. As a result, HUD, the City, and the NAACP filed a Consent Decree to address the issues in the case. The Decree extended BFHC’s responsibility by requiring:

  • the creation of the Metrolist program;
  • the enhancement the Affirmative Fair Housing Marketing program;

The Boston Fair Housing Commission (BFHC) was created in 1982 by the Boston City Council, and sections 10-3.1 to 10-3.6 of the City Code lay out the structure and responsibilities of the BFHC. 

who is subject to the affirmative marketing program?

Affirmative Fair Housing Marketing is required for all developments with five or more units with government assistance including land acquisition or financial assistance from Department of Neighborhood Development (DND), the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA), the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (including DHCD), or the federal government (HUD).

All income-restricted units under the City of Boston’s Inclusionary Development Program (IDP) are subject to Affirmative Marketing requirements. 

Developers and their agents are compelled to affirmatively further fair housing by taking steps that are stipulated in the Plan. Their responsibilities include informing those least likely to apply for housing because of the location of that housing, and to not discriminate or permit discrimination in the sale and/or rental use and occupancy of the property. 

More Than 'Not Discriminating'

Affirmative Fair Housing means more than “not discriminating.” It means taking steps to inform those least likely to apply for housing because of its location.

Affirmative Fair Housing means removing barriers to housing choice. Our goal is to make households aware of opportunities outside of their neighborhoods. We want to attract an applicant pool that mirrors the racial composition of the City as a whole. We also work to encourage and provide language access to housing programs.

Categories of income-restricted Housing

There are several categories of income-restricted housing subject to the standards of the City’s Program. The requirements differ slightly, based on size and type of development. 

Costs that can be subsidized include the: purchase, development, operation, or renovation of the property.

Inclusionary Development Policy (IDP) Mandated Housing

Government-assisted Housing means housing whose cost is subsidized — in whole or in part — with federal, state, or local funds and government resources. This can include the donation or sale of government-owned land.

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