A program of the Economic and Public Policy Research Group at the UMass Donahue Institute
in collaboration with the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston

MassBenchmarks Journal

2019 volume 21 issue 1

Two construction workers on a roof.THE CURRENT ISSUE'S HIGHLIGHTS

Economic Currents: Looming Challenges Accompany Statewide Prosperity
Mark Melnik and Robert Nakosteen 
Massachusetts' GDP growth remains above trend and its unemployment rate remains below 4%. Improvements in growth and unemployment, in fact, have fanned out to some of the Gateway Cities. At the same time, the state must contend with soaring housing costs, longer commutes, and volatile federal immigration and trade policies.

Growing and Preserving Affordable Housing for Extremely Low-Income Households in Massachusetts
Nicholas Chiumenti 
Because the private market offers few affordable housing options for extremely low-income (ELI) households in Massachusetts, they must rely on public sector subsidies like rental vouchers. A potential crisis is on the horizon, with subsidies for more than 9,000 ELI-occupied affordable housing units—most of them in the state's three largest cities—scheduled to expire by 2025.

The Fiscal Impact of New Housing Production in Massachusetts
Elise Rapoza and Michael Goodman
An argument against new housing development contends that new residents—especially in multi-family housing—will have a negative fiscal impact on communities. A new study finds that housing development offers net fiscal benefit to both municipalities and the state. And analytical validation of a second study demonstrates that housing production fails to predict enrollment changes in the state's school districts.

Housing Challenges in a Local, Tourist-Focused Setting
David Panagore and Michael McCarthy
Increasingly high housing prices in tourist-focused Provincetown favor short-term rentals over year-round leases. A scarcer housing supply adversely affects year-round residents and seasonal service workers. There is also a trend to convert multiunit buildings into pricier condos.

Policy Maker Perspective:
Massachusetts Housing: A Three-Pronged Crisis

Clark Ziegler
Challenges in supply, affordability, and equity all contribute to a statewide housing crisis. Housing production in metro Boston ranks near the bottom nationwide; housing development costs rank near the top. Separate housing regulations in the state's 351 cities and towns make economic equity elusive.

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