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Affordable housing soared in ’15

Thanks in part to the city’s building boom, Boston permitted more units of affordable housing in 2015 than in any year on record, Mayor Martin J. Walsh said Thursday.

The city issued building permits for 1,022 apartments and condos that are set at rents deemed affordable to middle- and lower-income residents, topping Boston’s previous high of 862 in 2004 and the most in 20 years of record-keeping. Another 1,443 units were approved in 2015 but do not yet have permits.

“We are committed to creating a Boston that anyone, at any income level, can afford to live in,” Walsh said in a statement.


More than half of the new apartments came through a city policy that requires developers of new buildings to either include affordable units in their projects or fund them elsewhere in the city. That program — which the Walsh Administration revamped last month to require larger contributions from developers — helped to harness the surge in construction here, said Sheila Dillon, Walsh’s housing chief.

“We have taken advantage of a very strong real estate market,” she said.

Nearly half of the affordable units are in development hot spots in downtown and South Boston, according to city data. More than one-fourth are in the middle-income bracket that the program targets: $78,800 to $98,500 for a family of four.

The city also cobbled together more funding to subsidize lower-income apartments, Dillon said — $23 million in total. And it is trying to sell off more city-owned land for housing development, especially in a corridor along the Fairmount commuter rail line, which runs through Hyde Park, Mattapan, Dorchester, and Roxbury to South Station.

“Federal funds have been on the decline so we are putting more of our money into affordable housing,” she said. “We’re trying to get money out. We’re trying to get sites out.”


Housing, and particularly housing that middle- and lower-income Bostonians can afford, is a top priority for the Walsh administration, which wants to add 53,000 units citywide by 2030. If the current pace keeps up, the city will hit its target of 6,500 new affordable units, Walsh said.

Tim Logan can be reached at timothy.logan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @bytimlogan.