Special to the Times-Free Press
The City of Boston announced a series of changes aimed at simplifying and adding transparency to the process of marketing and leasing up income-restricted housing produced through the Inclusionary Development Policy (IDP) program.
This spring, officials initiated a comprehensive review of the marketing and lease up process for income-restricted units. Our team conducted one-on-one interviews and focus group discussions with housing seekers, developers, and marketing agents. We also sent out a survey to over 5,000 applicants who participated in recent lotteries for IDP housing units. Through these efforts, we gained valuable insights into the experiences of our stakeholders and identified areas where we could make significant improvements.
Four significant changes were implemented for the marketing and lease up income restricted units through the City’s IDP program:
1. Simplified Marketing and Tenant Selection Plan: The City is reducing its current 68-page marketing and tenant selection plan to a concise five-page document. We will accompany the new plan with a handbook that will provide in-depth guidance about the marketing and lease up process. The handbook will be available online and will be regularly updated. You can access the new marketing and tenant selection plan template and handbook by visiting the City of Boston’s Affirmative Fair Housing Marketing website.
2. Improved Outreach Methods: We are changing the requirements associated with advertising and outreach. Developers will no longer be required to advertise their IDP income restricted units in local newspapers or hold in-person application distribution sessions. Instead, the City of Boston will spearhead new coordinated advertising for all active projects in both print newspapers and digital mediums. The City will also host hybrid information and application distribution sessions at sites across the city.
3. Streamlined Application Process: The City is removing request forms for residents interested in renting or buying IDP units, eliminating unnecessary paperwork and simplifying the process.
4. Increased Transparency: The City will begin posting the results of our lotteries and subsequent constituent outreach online. Housing seekers will be able to see their exact position in line for a specific housing opportunity and understand the reasons behind their progression or non-progression in the process.
These four steps represent significant progress towards streamlining and simplifying the process, we are committed to further enhancements. Over the next several months, officials will continue to make changes to improve the experience for both housing seekers and developers.