Housing report

Boston area is creating jobs much faster than housing, report says

Boston-area authorities approved an average of 2.3 new homes per 1,000 residents from 2008 to 2018, according to a new report from real estate listings and search site Apartment List.

At the same time, however, the area added 5.8 jobs per 1,000 people, meaning 2.5 jobs were added for every new housing unit in the Boston area.

Such a gap, of course, underscores one of the main reasons why housing prices and rents in the area are so high: too many new residents for the existing housing supply, regardless of the pace of new developments. – or, as the Apartment List report puts it, “the metro suffers from a lack of new construction.

In this, the Boston area resembles other fast-growing, housing-scarce metropolises, such as New York and San Francisco. Unsurprisingly, those same areas — and Boston — have some of the highest prices and rents in the country. (A new Zumper report for August pegs the city of Boston’s median one- and two-bedroom rents as each of the top five in the United Statesfor example.)

The apartment listing report also arrives the same week as the Boston Planning and Development Agency predicts that the population of Boston proper could reach 760,000 by 2030, a high level reminiscent of the 1950s and largely due to immigration. This suggests a further worsening of the regional housing crisis.

The good news recently is that much of the new development in the area has been of the much needed multi-family variety. Since 2006, multi-family units have accounted for 58% of housing permits in the area, Apartment List said, up from 27% from 1990 to 2005.

Yet the Boston area lags behind in terms of housing development. There are a myriad of reasons for this. One of the most striking is the region’s patchwork of zoning regulations, with each city operating independently of each other, regardless of the metro’s interconnection. Recent moves to Dedham, Arlington and Saugus restrict or at least slow down the development.