Housing Production Plan
What is 40B?
This refers to the Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 40B. This law is designed to facilitate construction of housing units that are subsidized to be affordable for households with income of up to 80% of the Area Mean Income (AMI).
Subsidized Housing Inventory
The housing units that are deed restricted to meet the affordability criteria are considered part of the Subsidized Housing Inventory (SHI). The goal set by the 40B law is to reach 10%. If a development has units for sale (i.e. condos), then the number of units that are deed-restricted count towards the SHI. That number is 20 to 25 percent of the units. However, if the development is rental units, then 100% of the units developed count towards SHI, even if only 25% are deed restricted.
If a city or town is below 10%, then developers can ignore certain local zoning laws, including specifically the allowable density, if 20 or 25 percent of the units being built become part of the SHI. The Town of Winchester currently has 1.89% of housing stock in the SHI.
What is a Housing Production Plan?
A Housing Production Plan (HPP) is a proactive strategy for planning and developing housing units to be included in the SHI, to reach the goal of 10%.
The HPP must meet specific guidelines that have been set by the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), it is approved by the Board of Selectmen and the Planning Board, and then submitted to DHCD for approval.
What is Safe Harbor?
A town that has a DHCD-approved HPP and also produces affordable units per the plan can become certified by DHCD for a period of either 1 or 2 years. While certified, the town has “safe harbor” from developments that seek to bypass the town’s zoning laws.
To be certified for 1 year, the town must produce an increase to the SHI of 0.5% of housing stock. For a 2 year certification, the percentage is 1%.
Why should Winchester create a HPP?
Creating a HPP allows our Town to be proactive in developing affordable housing that is in scale with our existing neighborhoods. As long as we are below 10%, and we do not have a certified plan, then developers can bypass our zoning laws and create developments that are out of scale or not complementary of the surroundings.
What are the next steps?
The Board of Selectmen appointed a Housing Production Plan Working Group which has been meeting to work with a consultant to hold community meetings and create a Housing Production Plan.
The Working Group selected the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) to be the consultant on this project.