Real-Time Data on the Supply/Demand of Low Income Housing


In 1999, HousingWorks.net pioneered the idea that Housing Data is most accurate when it is a side effect of increased service delivery: applicants with a stake in getting housed, and providers with a stake in filling units, provide the best quality data in real-time. Since increased service delivery is our mission, HousingWorks.net has been collecting valuable and precise data on applicants, inventory, and waitlists through this process.

We believe that the best definition of Affordable Housing is that "anyone who works a full-time job in a city chould be able to afford a rental or home in that same city"; a health city needs its service populations to live in the communities where their jobs are located; a city built on the premise that it's okay for the bulk of the service population to commute two hours each day to a low-paying job is a city that is losing its soul and wasting its Social Capital. One of the roots of increasing homeless problem is the lack of sufficient Social Capital. Over time, these reports will tell us if Boston has sufficient affordable housing - and a soul, or not.

Beginning in the late 90s, the ability to live in Boston as a full-time employed person ceased to be possible for a significant portion of the population. What the reports below show us at present is that, in the most recent years, 'Affordable Housing' units are only those priced under the 30%, 50% and 60% AMI levels. (You can think of 60% AMI as "two full-time jobs at MacDonald's".) Other ways of defining Affordable Housing is, it is housing priced for applicants making 'just at or below 'Minority Median Wage'. (Median wage varies greatly by race and educational level, so Boston's current, generic median wage definition is an inappropriate tool for measurement). Important Note: To keep this webpage short, the reports below are restricted to 1BR applicants in the lower AMI levels in the Boston area. By Oct 2019, we will be adding the reports for all other bedroom sizes as links. A few large-scale reports and white papers are also available at the bottom of this page. You can download any graphic or report by clicking on it. Additionally, HousingWorks staff are available to make more comprehensive presentations for all bedroom sizes during live presentations, upon invitation.

Sample Report Slides, 1BR Populations Only

Why Our Reports Only Cover Applicants Making Less than 60% AMI

Overview: Numbers of Households Full-Time Employed but 30% AMI and Homeless, Across All Bedroom Sizes

Drill Down: Full-Time Employed but 30% AMI and Homeless:
Last Four Years with Supporting Detail

Average Waitlist Times for 1BR 30%, 50%, 60%, and 80% AMI in Boston, Cambridge, and Newton 2016-2019

Measuring Waitlist Times can be tricky: Average, Median, Shortest, and Longest Wait Times for a single year cannot tell us if sufficient numbers of affordable housing units are being built. However, reports showing trends over time provide a good measure of the effectiveness of housing policies. As you can see below, the Average Wait Time in Boston for 1BR units in the moderate- and lower- income ranges has not really changed in the last four years; while the Worst Wait Times (seen farther down the page) have actually increased. The meaning and application of this data is best discussed in our live presentations.

Worst Waitlist Times for 1BR 30%, 50%, 60%, and 80% AMI in Boston, Cambridge, and Newton 2016-2019

Applicants who sit on our waitlists must respond to an Annual Waitlist Update Letter, year after year, to remain viable. As you can see, a number of applicants have been responding for 20-plus years. Why would anyone do that? Common reasons are: because the desired housing is closer to job, family, or culture; because one housing location may be deemed safer than another, or come with better schools, transportation options, etc.; because applicants have been displaced to a location outside the city and want to eliminate the long commute to one or more jobs so as to spend more time with family.

Average and Worst Waitlist Times for Studio, 2BR, 3BR, 4BR, 5BR, and 6BR 30%, 50%, 60%, and 80% AMI in Boston, Cambridge, and Newton

2BR Average Waitlist Times 2016-2019

2BR Worst Waitlist Times 2016-2019

3BR Average Waitlist Times 2016-2019

3BR Worst Waitlist Times 2016-2019

4BR Average Waitlist Times 2016-2019

4BR Worst Waitlist Times 2016-2019

5BR Average Waitlist Times 2016-2019

5BR Worst Waitlist Times 2016-2019

6BR Average Waitlist Times 2016-2019

6BR Worst Waitlist Times 2016-2019

Studio Average Waitlist Times 2016-2019

Studio Worst Waitlist Times 2016-2019

Reports for Planners, Developers, and Government Agencies
        We are Available to Present and Explain these Reports to your Group

2016-2019 Trends of the Last Four Years Going online late Sept 2019
        The Full Report is Available for Group Presentations

2017 September Comprehensive Report
        Delivered to Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless

White Paper: Barriers to Subsidized, Affordable, Special Needs Housing
        When Multiple Helping Systems Become the Obstacle

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