Massachusetts Land Use Monitor

Massachusetts Land Use Monitor

Real-Time News & Commentary on Massachusetts Land Use & Real Estate Law

Category Archives: Affordable Housing

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Affordable Housing Covenants Have Protected Status in Foreclosures

Posted in Affordable Housing, Condominiums, Foreclosure, Restrictive Covenants
The Boston Redevelopment Authority d/b/a Boston Planning and Development Agency has the right to challenge a foreclosure that purportedly terminated a covenant restricting the use of property to affordable housing. In allowing the BPDA’s suit to move forward, the Business Litigation Session of the Suffolk Superior Court recognized two truisms of Massachusetts foreclosure law. First,… Continue Reading


Posted in Affordable Housing
The Trump administration’s plan to lower corporate tax rates has created uncertainty in the affordable housing market by devaluing low-income housing tax credits (LIHTC).  LIHTC devaluation is casting a chilling effect on the construction of affordable housing units nationally, including a Jamaica Plain project currently under construction.  The LIHTC program, a widely utilized $8 billion… Continue Reading

Safe Harbor or Cruel Mirage? BBA Program Looks at Chapter 40B’s Municipal Planning Defense

Posted in Affordable Housing, Zoning
On April 25, 2014, the Boston Bar Association will host a lunch program entitled “The (Slow) Rise and (Sudden) Fall of the Chapter 40B Municipal Planning Defense.”  This program is jointly sponsored by the BBA’s Land Use and Development Committee (of which MLUM author Johanna Schneider is co-chair) and its Affordable Housing Committee.  The guest speaker… Continue Reading

Gov. Patrick Appoints Rackemann Lawyer Kurt James to Marblehead Housing Board

Posted in Affordable Housing, Uncategorized
I’m pleased to report that Governor Deval Patrick has appointed my colleague Kurt James, a director in Rackemann’s Real Estate Department, to a five-year term on the Marblehead Housing Authority Board of Commissioners.  Kurt has 25 years of experience in real estate development and finance with a particular focus on affordable housing, so he’ll be a great asset… Continue Reading

Affordable, Or Just Tiny?

Posted in Affordable Housing, Boston Development
Efforts to promote affordable housing in Boston are starting to sound like potato chip marketing, boasting “40% less fat” for a bag of chips that’s actually 40% smaller.  The Boston Redevelopment Authority is now authorizing apartment units as small as 450 square feet within one mile of public transit stops.  The problem, according to Boston’s chief planner, is… Continue Reading

Full Text of Massachusetts Land Use Reform Bill

Posted in Affordable Housing, Legislation, Policy, Subdivision Control, Zoning
Here’s the full text of Massachusetts House Bill H.1859, entitled “An Act Promoting the Planning and Development of Sustainable Communities,” which is presently before the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government.  I’ll be digging into this jam-packed bill over the next few weeks and posting my thoughts on some of its key provisions.  I invite our regular MLUM readers and others… Continue Reading

SJC Revisits Affordable Housing, Chapter 40B

Posted in Affordable Housing
The Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) recently turned its attention back to affordable housing under the state’s comprehensive permit law, M.G.L. c. 40B, §§ 20-23 (Chapter 40B).  Since a high point in 2008, when it decided four Chapter 40B cases, the SJC has been relatively quiet on this subject.  Quiet, that is, until the past few weeks, when the… Continue Reading

Breaking: SJC Issues Important Affordable Housing Decision

Posted in Affordable Housing, Zoning
The Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) today issued its decision in Zoning Board of Appeals of Lunenburg v. Housing Appeals Committee.  This decision affirms a decision of the Housing Appeals Committee (HAC) that overturned the Lunenburg Zoning Board of Appeals’ denial of a comprehensive permit for a 146-unit condominium project.  Among the topics the SJC addresses are whether non-subsidized affordable housing counts toward… Continue Reading

Appeals Court Clips HAC’s Wings

Posted in Affordable Housing
In a recent unpublished decision in Zoning Board of Appeals of Brookline v. Housing Appeals Committee (pdf), an Appeals Court panel rejected the position of the state’s Housing Appeals Committee (HAC) that, once HAC determines that a permit condition renders a project uneconomic, it has free reign to strike or modify any condition imposed by the local board of appeals – including… Continue Reading

Voters Reject Ballot Question to Repeal Chapter 40B

Posted in Affordable Housing, Legislation
Massachusetts voters yesterday rejected Question 2, the ballot question that proposed to repeal the state’s affordable housing statute, known as Chapter 40B.  The final tally was 58% against repeal and 42% in favor, a pretty decisive outcome.  What’s interesting is the town-by-town results, shown here.  It makes sense that most of the cities voted against repeal. … Continue Reading

Supreme Judicial Court Limits Zoning Board’s Right to Condition Comprehensive Permit

Posted in Affordable Housing
Rather than deny a comprehensive permit outright, zoning boards increasingly have been granting comprehensive permits subject to numerous, and sometimes onerous, conditions.  Generally, developers have been able to strike such conditions only if they render the project uneconomic.  Occasionally, the Housing Appeals Committee has removed conditions that were overtly improper.  In its September 2, 2010 decision in… Continue Reading