Most municipalities in greater Boston allow multi-family zoning on only a small percentage of their land.
One of the primary reasons why towns regulate multi-family housing so tightly is the fear that such housing will increase the demand for schools and other public services without generating sufficient tax revenue to offset the costs. Property taxes are the largest source of local tax revenue and the tax base in most suburban towns is made up of almost entirely residential property. Existing homeowners may fear that multifamily housing will result in lower property values.
Such a strong emphasis on lower density, single-family housing has an implicit discriminatory affect on minorities and lower-income households. Restricting multi-family housing disproportionately affects minority households as approximately 48% of minority households in Boston have children compared to 32% of white households. Furthermore, lower-density, single-family housing is more expensive than higher-density multi-family housing, which effectively limits the ability of low- and moderate-income households to afford housing in affluent high opportunity suburban communities.
This housing development essentially excluded family renters by significantly limiting the number of units with multiple bedrooms. Under the original proposal, the developer planned to have:
As a result of pressure from the town, the percentages of multifamily housing were reduced even further. The final proposal included: