Rent is on the rise in Boston -- again

BOSTON — Rental relief for residents was on the agenda at a Boston City Council Housing Committee meeting Tuesday afternoon.

City leaders, along with real estate and non-profit organizations, met for a hearing on housing prices and speculation in the market.

City leaders have said increasing the amount of housing will fix the problem, but Tuesday, we heard from the housing and development chief who says that won't be enough. The rent is still too high and the Boston City Council is looking to take action after a report showed the average cost to rent an apartment in the city is $2,100, up four percent from this time last year.

"I'm hearing a lot of people struggling to stay here and wondering how they're gonna make their next month's payment," said Lydia Edwards, Boston City Council.

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Housing and Development Committee Chair Lydia Edwards sponsored the hearing on housing market speculation Tuesday afternoon. Boston 25 News reporter Crystal Haynes also put the question to Mayor Marty Walsh.

"About 26,000 units of housing that are under review to be under construction. They'll be under construction sometime this year so, hopefully we put more supply on the market. It will stabilize the rents," said Walsh.

In 2015, the city required developers of buildings with ten or more units to make 13 percent of them affordable housing. If not, they get the requirement waived by paying the market rate for those units into a city fund.

"There is real question on whether 13 percent is high enough. There's a real question on whether we should allow for waivers anymore," said Edwards.

Housing and Development Chief Sheila Dillon told Tuesday's committee that development alone won't be enough.

"The housing that's being built is not going to be affordable to everyone and that we need to continue to build affordable housing," said Dillon.

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The city is on track to create 53,000 more units in its 2030 housing plan, but councilor Edwards pointed to population. In 1950, Boston's population was at 800,000. Right now, the city has just 637,000 residents.

"Part of us really want people to come build in Boston. They build for all of us. And we need to make sure that's really happening," said Edwards.

Dillon says Boston's high rents are a regional issue.

"We also know that Boston shouldn't just be doing this alone. We really do need a regional response. People don't want long commuters, but they will take short commutes. So we really do want our surrounding cities and towns to build more housing," said Dillon.

Other issues on the table including the growing number of foreign investors and whether developers should continue to be allowed to pay to waive their requirement to provide affordable units.