Boston ranks low among the hundred largest American cities in its percentage of households with children. Growing families often leave the city for the suburbs, citing crime concerns, schools, and lack of affordable family-sized housing.
Part of the problem is that residential development has catered to smaller-sized households, with the city adding a small number of single-family homes over the past decades, as opposed to thousands of new condominium units. While the condo boom has lured young professionals into the city, it has not provided much opportunity for those same professionals to stay in Boston once they expand their family.
Michael believes that more must be done to encourage new family-sized housing. Density incentives, residential development incentives based on proximity to public transit, zoning flexibility for adaptive re-use projects that would convert underutilized commercial space into family-based housing, and density levels that take into consideration the differences between emerging downtown neighborhoods and smaller-scale traditional neighborhoods, all must be given consideration.
As early as 1999, the Boston Globe reported that Michael “outlined his support…for a series of proposals to address the growing problem of high-cost housing in Boston [calling] for funds to promote affordable housing development using increased property tax revenues from buildings formerly under rent control. He also called for a requirement that 25 percent of new housing units be set aside for low- and moderate-income residents, a strategy known as ‘inclusionary zoning’ that is used by several cities, including Cambridge, Somerville, and Newton." On the issue of affordable family housing and ideas to create affordable housing throughout the city, Michael has consistently been ahead of the curve.