What is M.G.L. Chapter 40B?
Massachusetts General Law Chapter 40B, also known as the Comprehensive Permit Law, helps address the need for affordable housing in cities and towns. The state statute enables local Zoning Boards of Appeals to approve affordable housing developments under flexible rules if at least 20-25% of the units have long-term affordability restrictions.
Subsidized Housing Inventory
The Subsidized Housing Inventory is a tool used to measure a community's stock of low-or moderate-income housing for the purposes of M.G.L. Chapter 40B. These units are considered affordable according to specific income guidelines set by the state. Being listed on the SHI signifies that these housing units count towards a municipality's affordable housing goals as mandated by state regulations like Chapter 40B.
According to the Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities, 7.99% of housing units in North Andover are categorized as affordable. 40B establishes a mandate for all communities in Massachusetts to have a minimum of 10 percent of their housing stock be affordable to middle- and lower- income households. The 10 percent statutory minimum is based on the total number of year-round housing units in the most recent federal census, Census 2020. To count toward this 10 percent, affordable housing units must have a permanent or long-term restriction requiring the unit to be sold or rented to households earning less than 80 percent of the median income in the local area (Area Median Income or AMI).
North Andover is part of the Lawrence HUD Metro FMR Area. Table courtesy of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
According to the 2020 U.S. Census, the Town of North Andover comprises a total of 11,872 housing units, with 948 listed on the Subsidized Housing Inventory. This figure accounts for 7.99% of the total year-round housing units reported in the 2020 U.S. Census. To meet the 10% affordability benchmark, the town would need to generate an additional 240 SHI-eligible housing units.
A comprehensive permit is a unified permit that incorporates all the local approvals required under zoning and other local bylaws and regulations. If a community falls below the 10 percent affordability threshold, developers may appeal to the Housing Appeals Committee (HAC) to be granted a comprehensive permit. Comprehensive permits may still be granted after a town achieves the 10 percent affordability minimum; however, the HAC no longer has the authority to overturn a local board’s decision. Because North Andover is currently below the required Chapter 40B 10 percent affordability requirement, it is important to highlight the status of the Town’s Subsidized Housing Inventory and explore opportunities to reach the 10 percent threshold.