Affordability Remains Elusive

Originally published in The Boston Globe

January 25, 2006
James Stergios (Executive Director, Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research)

Doug Foy, secretary of the state Office for Commonwealth Development, is right to advance housing and environmental goals in tandem ("Turning the corner on housing crisis," op-ed, Jan. 18). He is also right to note progress made during the past three years and to promote incentives to municipalities allowing "smart" residential development. But he is wrong to downplay widespread concern about housing affordability. The state's efforts have at best scratched the surface of issues raised in a Pioneer/Rappaport study, which found that local restrictions on housing development have caused the dramatic escalation in housing prices. Massachusetts is, quite simply, not producing enough housing for the general workforce. No one is calling for housing in any location. There are two reasonable solutions: Make housing construction in the right locations the path of least resistance for developers through judicious exemptions from local restrictions, and significantly strengthen the incentives behind the state's efforts thus far.

Jim Stergios, Executive director Pioneer Institute