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Borrowing Innovation, Achieving Affordability: What We Can Learn from Massachusetts Chapter 40B

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Working Paper, August 2016

Authors: Carolina K. Reid, Carol Galante, Ashley F. Weinstein-Carnes

California is facing a housing affordability crisis, particularly in its coastal cities. Median rents across the state have increased 24 percent since 2000, at the same time that household renter incomes have declined seven percent. While there are multiple contributing factors to the rising cost of housing, it is clear that supply matters, and there is an urgent need to expand supply in equitable and environmentally sustainable ways.

This working paper by the Terner Center for Housing Innovation examines Chapter 40B, a policy which has effectively streamlined the housing approval process and expanded affordable housing production in communities across Massachusetts for over five decades. The paper goes on to provides an analysis of how this policy might be adapted and adopted in California, introducing the concept of a “California 40B.”

California 40B is a promising solution to California’s lack of housing supply. It is the kind of policy proposal that, though not the only solution, would position California to intervene in exclusionary practices where they are most aggressively practiced and promote more equitable development in communities across the state.

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