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435,000 added housing units needed in Boston area, report says

Greater Boston is going to require about 435,000 new housing units by the year 2040 to accommodate the retiring baby boomer generation, as well as a needed influx of younger workers, according to a report by a state planning agency.

The dramatic need for housing comes from information developed by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, an agency that works with 101 cities and towns in the area to gather employment and population data.

“Two out of five workers in Greater Boston will be retired by the year 2030,” the agency said in a statement, “so the region must attract younger workers from elsewhere if the economy is to keep growing.


“Housing those young workers, in addition to the growing senior population, will require the creation of 435,000 new housing units — mostly multifamily, and mostly in urban areas — by 2040,” the council said.

Marc Draisen, the agency’s executive director, said the need to attract a younger work force is vital to the success of the region’s economy.

“A lack of housing at a reasonable price” is one of the causes limiting the attraction of a younger workforce, said Draisen. “It’s really expensive here to buy or rent a home.

“We don’t consistently produce enough housing,” the head of the planning agency said.

The agency’s report included two scenarios: a “Status Quo” scenario that assumes current trends and patterns for the area remain the same, and a “Stronger Region” scenario, which assumes an almost doubled increase in the area’s total population over the next three decades.

In the “Status Quo” scenario, the agency projected a 6.6 percent increase in the overall population.

“Without an influx of younger workers, the number of jobs in the region could grow by less than 1 percent from 2010 to 2040,” the report said.

A younger workforce moving to the Greater Boston area, however, would spur the “Stronger Region” scenario, in which the information gathered points toward an addition of about 175,000 new workers.


“The need for new housing will also increase, but not as rapidly: 435,000 new units needed, compared to 305,000 new units needed in the Status Quo scenario,” the agency’s report said.

In November 2012, Governor Deval Patrick announced a plan to have 10,000 new apartments and condominiums built in the state over the next decade in order to have the housing market function normally.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino announced a plan last spring to add 30,000 new housing units in Boston by 2020.

The office of Boston’s new mayor, Martin J. Walsh, could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.

Draisen said the goal that the agency is putting forward is to reach the “Stronger Region” scenario.

The key to pulling in outside, younger workers, he said, would be “availability of housing that they can actually afford in places they want to live.”

Derek J. Anderson can be reached at