Update: Amendment Passed!
Waltham needs more affordable housing. Currently, two in five Waltham renters live in unaffordable housing. These Waltham households struggle to pay rent - putting more than 30% of their income towards housing costs - and lack access to more affordable options. In recognition of this, WATCH supports the Inclusionary Zoning Proposal currently being considered by the City Council.
What is inclusionary zoning?
Inclusionary zoning is a municipal law that requires housing developers to set aside a percentage of new housing units as affordable for low-to-moderate income residents. The specifics of the laws, including the exact percentage of new housing units that are set aside as affordable and any incentives provided to developers in exchange for participation, vary by municipality. Incentives may include expediting the permitting process or allowing developers to build more units or taller buildings.
What was the previous inclusionary zoning law in Waltham?
Until May 2019, Waltham's zoning laws required that developers only set aside 10% of new units as affordable to residents earning less than 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI). The affordability provision of these units expired after 50 years.
In the case of rental housing, affordability is considered to be 30% of monthly income.
What did the Waltham City Council's proposal for an amendment to the city's inclusionary zoning law do?
Waltham City Councillors Robert Logan, Diane LeBlanc, and John McLaughlin proposed to increase the affordable housing requirement by 50%, from 10% to 15%. On May 28, 2019 that proposal passed in City Council, and amended the city's inclusionary zoning policy to be more expansive. Thanks to the change, Waltham’s zoning law requires that developers continue to set aside 10% of all housing units in a new development as affordable at 80% AMI, and an additional 5% as affordable for residents earning 50% AMI. All these new units will remain affordable in perpetuity.
WATCH supported Councillor Logan’s proposal to amend Waltham’s inclusionary zoning law by increasing the required percentage of affordable new housing units from 10% to 15%.
WATCH further encouraged the Waltham City Council to consider setting aside the additional affordable housing units for residents earning less than 50% of AMI, rather than the 60% AMI in the original version of the proposal. This would expand housing affordability for Waltham’s low income residents.
How did Waltham's City Councillors vote?
Ten councillors supported the measure:
Four councillors opposed the amendment, in favor of holding out for an increase of 20% affordable units in new developments:
To show your support, you can:
Contact your City Councillor - thank them for their vote!
Read all about the final vote in the Tribune!
Sign up for our newsletter to keep informed and get involved in future movements!