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Wu launches study of developer fees for housing

The mayor also appointed 11-person committee to advise on affordable housing funding.

Mayor Michelle Wu on Tuesday hired consultants and named an 11-person advisory committee to study how new residential and commercial development should contribute to city affordable housing funds.Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe

Mayor Michelle Wu’s administration has tapped two consulting firms, along with an 11-member local advisory committee, to study how Boston tasks real estate developers — especially those building life-science laboratory space — with helping fund new affordable housing.

California-based David Paul Rosen & Associates will study Boston’s inclusionary development policy, including exploring whether to increase the percentage of income-restricted units in certain real estate developments to 20 percent, up from the current 13 percent. The firm has consulted worldwide, with clients ranging from the World Bank, multiple arms of the federal government, 10 state governments, as well as cities including San Francisco, Seattle, and Cambridge.


Beyond the consulting firm, Wu’s administration has created a technical advisory committee to shape the study. The committee members include:

  • Donna Brown, South Boston Neighborhood Development Corp.
  • Jesse Kanson-Benanav, Abundant Housing Massachusetts
  • George Lee, Coalition for a Truly Affordable Boston/Keep it 100 for Real Affordable Housing & Racial Justice
  • Abe Menzin, Samuels & Associates
  • Greg Minott, DREAM Collaborative
  • Markeisha Moore, Coalition for a Truly Affordable Boston/Dot Not For Sale
  • Leslie Reid, Madison Park Development Corp.
  • Erica Schwarz, Boston Neighborhood Community Land Trust
  • Tamara Small, NAIOP Massachusetts
  • Peter Spellios, Transom Real Estate
  • Justin Steil, MIT

Meanwhile, Karl F. Seidman Consulting Services and ConsultEcon Inc. will examine the city’s commercial linkage program, which requires certain fees from developers of commercial real estate projects that eventually fund affordable housing creation and workforce development training. The firms also studied Boston’s linkage program in 2016.

Among the final actions of former mayor Martin J. Walsh before he left office to become US labor secretary was to increase commercial linkage requirements for projects over 100,000 square feet by 42 percent to $15.39 per square foot. Since 1987, the linkage program has collected $217.1 million that has gone toward creating and preserving income-restricted housing as well as supporting education and workforce development efforts.

Catherine Carlock can be reached at catherine.carlock@globe.com. Follow her @bycathcarlock.