Author: Charles C. Euchner, Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. With Elizabeth G. Frieze, Harvard University
Affordable housing is important to the vitality of Massachusetts communities, but the state needs to encourage the marketplace to create a broader range of housing types. The first step is to identify the factors that raise the cost and reduce the supply of housing in the Commonwealth. Both state and local governments have a legitimate interest in regulating certain aspects of housing development to assure reasonable safety and health standards and allow for the overall well-being of the community and its character. Some regulations are clearly necessary. Government support of affordable housing may also require grants, tax credits, and the like. But the housing crisis cannot be solved with public funding alone. Even extraordinary sums of money can produce only a limited number of units. In the end, the primary role of state and local government should be to lay a basic foundation and then allow developers, community development corporations, and others to build.