In 1968, President Johnson signed the Fair Housing Act making housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, family status, or disability illegal. In 2015, President Obama strengthened the Fair Housing Act by issuing the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule, which required cities to examine whether there are any barriers to fair housing, produce an Assessment of Fair Housing, and create a plan to rectify fair housing practices. City of Boston agencies have been engaged in a cross departmental effort to draft an Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH), as required by President Obama’s 2015 AFFH rule. Boston’s draft AFH identifies over 100 actions under 14 goals across city agencies, including amending the Boston Zoning Code to affirmatively further fair housing. For more information about the City’s AFH efforts, please contact the Office of Fair Housing and Equity.
Mayor Walsh announced the City’s commitment to amending Boston’s Zoning Code to include affirmatively furthering fair housing requirements in June 2020 as part of the City’s commitment to advancing equity and inclusion in the City of Boston. As part of the actions in the AFH, the City is amending the Boston Zoning Code to require residential projects or mixed-use projects with residential components undergoing Large Project Review and/or Planned Development Area Review under Article 80 with the Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) to consider impacts on area residents historically discriminated against so that steps can be taken to reduce those impacts, provide new housing opportunities, and address past histories of exclusion. The zoning amendment also includes the Accessibility Checklist, approved by the BPDA Board in June 2014 and updated in March 2017 and November 2019 and the Smart Utilities Checklist, approved by the BPDA Board in June 2018.
Developers will be required to complete the already approved Accessibility Checklist, and Smart Utilities Checklist, in addition to a new AFFH Assessment Tool, guided by a displacement analysis and historical exclusion data, which will be provided by the BPDA.
On December 17, 2020, the following materials were presented to the BPDA Board for approval:
The BPDA will recommend that the Boston Zoning Commission amend the Boston Zoning Code in accordance with the Draft Amendment.