Lynn Housing for All is a plan for the city to grow together.
Lynn should be a city where we all can find affordable and safe housing that meets our needs.
New economic growth is bringing many benefits to Lynn, including new amenities, jobs, and housing. For our community to enjoy these benefits, we must control housing costs and mitigate displacement. With this plan, which will meet all the requirements of a Housing Production Plan,
the Lynn community will set a clear agenda for housing development and housing policy over the next five years.
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Why Plan Now?
Lynn is a community that aspires to have safe, affordable housing for all, even as housing costs rise and housing demand increases due to population growth and changing housing needs. Many in the city are uncertain that Lynn’s current housing stock can meet current and future needs, and many believe recent housing production is inadequate and too costly. There is also disagreement within the Lynn community about housing priorities, particularly how to balance economic development goals with anti-displacement objectives. Like many places in the Greater Boston region, Lynn is at a crossroads, and now is the time to make key decisions about the future of the city’s housing.
The City of Lynn, working with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), is tackling these concerns head-on with Lynn Housing for All. Through this process, there will be conversation and education around Lynn’s housing needs and the actions Lynn can take to meet them. Ultimately, the community will craft housing goals for City government to work toward, and together we will identify strategies to achieve those goals.
What is the Plan?
Lynn Housing is a community-driven process that will establish goals and strategies to expand and diversify Lynn’s housing stock and increase affordability for people with a range of incomes. The plan will also fulfill all requirements of a Housing Production Plan under M.G.L. Chapter 40B; though the City currently has Safe Harbor from 40B development, leadership knows this doesn’t mean need for Affordable Housing in Lynn is met. This plan will focus on objectives pertaining to both Affordable Housing and market-rate development based on current and future housing need, given development constraints and opportunities. Through this planning process, the Lynn community can proactively influence development to guide the type, amount, and location of future housing, and signal to developers what kinds of future development is preferred. The City of Lynn, through the Lynn Housing Authority and Neighborhood Development and the Mayor’s Office, is working with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council to conduct this planning process and draft a plan.
This plan will include several sections:
- Background on past Lynn plans and recent context;
- A Housing Needs Assessment reviewing demographic and housing data, including projections, to understand current and future housing needs;
- An analysis of development constraints, impacts, and opportunities, including specific locations suited to specific kinds of residential development; and
- Goals and strategies to grow the stock of Affordable Housing and market-rate housing in Lynn, including an implementation plan.
Kicking off in early 2020, the planning process will engage people across Lynn, including groups historically excluded from urban planning processes—such as people of color, renters, low-income residents, non-native English speakers, and many others. The project team will use a range of engagement methods to reach as many residents as possible, and ensure the plan reflects diverse voices across the city.
Defining Affordable Housing
When most people talk about housing affordability, they simply mean housing that works within their budget. Compared to other cities in the region, much of Lynn’s market-rate housing is relatively inexpensive, though costs for that housing are rising. Lynn is home to many moderate- and lower-income households, and this housing is becoming less affordable to them.
Housing planners use a more specific definition of “Affordable Housing” when discussing housing policy and development. The government considers a home to be “Affordable Housing” when it costs 30% or less of a household’s income and is deed-restricted to income-eligible low- or moderate-income residents. Affordable Housing has restrictions to preserve affordability for decades or in perpetuity, ensuring that income-eligible households can stay in their communities without having to make difficult financial decisions, such as skipping meals or doctor’s appointments to have enough money to pay for their homes. Without deed restrictions, housing costs can go up as markets rise, making homes that were once inexpensive now costly. Deed-restricted Affordable Housing protects communities from skyrocketing costs and related displacement.
Eligibility to live in deed-restricted Affordable Housing is based on household income and the number of people in the household, which is usually compared to the Metropolitan Area Median Income (AMI) calculated by the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The 2019 AMI for the Greater Boston region, which includes Lynn, is $113,300. Under many Affordable Housing programs, households eligible for deed-restricted Affordable Housing must be at or below 80% of AMI. For a household of one, 80% AMI is $63,500; for a household of four, it is $89,200. Some Affordable Housing programs serve households with lower incomes than those.
Affordable Housing can take many forms, including public housing and private Affordable Housing, which is typically built by nonprofit developers or for-profit developers through mixed-income projects. All Affordable Housing requires subsidy, and usually this subsidy comes from the government. Today’s Affordable Housing developments usually require multiple subsidies from all levels of government, as well as private debt and foundation funding, in order to be built. In addition to government-subsidized Affordable Housing, some cities require market-rate developments to include Affordable Housing under laws often called “inclusionary zoning.” In this case, the market-rate units in each development help to subsidize the Affordable Housing in that development. Lynn does not currently have inclusionary zoning.
Currently, 12.4% of Lynn’s housing stock is on the state Subsidized Housing Inventory (SHI), so the city meets the first criteria for Safe Harbor under M.G.L. Chapter 40B. It is important to note, however, that meeting any one of these criteria does not mean a community has met local need for Affordable Housing. All of these benchmarks consider local land use and development—housing supply—but not residents—housing demand. Despite having Safe Harbor from 40B, there remains just 1 Affordable Housing unit for every 4 income-eligible household in Lynn.
Learn about Affordable Housing:
The Greater Boston region is experiencing a housing crisis characterized by lack of supply and skyrocketing housing costs. Compared to many other cities and towns in the region, Lynn’s housing is relatively low cost. Still, Lynn faces challenges providing safe and affordable housing for everyone. As costs rise, this puts some current residents at risk of displacement. To better understand this context, see the flip book to the right for select key indicators about Lynn’s population and housing.
Through this planning process, Lynn will address these conditions by arriving at strategies to make Lynn’s housing better meet the community’s needs.
(Sources: US Decennial Census, 1900-2010; American Community Survey 2012-2017 5-year estimates; Warren Group sales data; MAPC Rental Listings Database; Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development SHI, September 2017; Comprehensive Housing and Affordability Strategy (CHAS) data, 2012-2016)
steady population growth
Lynn’s population has steadily grown over the last few decades to 93,069 people, though the city still has 9,000 people fewer than its peak population in 1930. MAPC projects Lynn’s population will continue to increase through 2030.
The median income for Lynn households is roughly $53,000 — $20,000 less than Essex County’s median household income of $73,500. Lynn’s median income for homeowners is $86,000, compared to $34,000 for renters. Approximately 26% of Lynn households have incomes of less than $25,000 per year, including 10% of Lynn households with incomes of less than $10,000.
Most Lynn residents are people of color, but no single racial or ethnic group holds a majority. Latinx people of any race and non-Latinx white people are the two largest racial/ethnic groups in the city (39% and 38% of the population, respectively), followed by non-Latinx black and Asian people (12% and 8%, respectively). All other racial or ethnic groups compose the remaining 3% of residents.
Nearly 35% of Lynn residents were born outside the United States. Roughly 44% of foreign-born residents (15% of all residents) are naturalized US citizens.
A majority of Lynn households rent their homes:
In the 1990s, Lynn saw virtually no change in the number of housing units; demolition of vacant small multifamily housing offset production of hundreds of new single-family homes and homes in larger multifamily buildings. More development came to Lynn in the 2000s, with about 1,100 net new units in the decade (3% growth in the housing stock). Most new housing was attached single-family homes (about 510 units) and small multifamily buildings with two to four homes (about 560 units). Meanwhile, there was a loss of 200 units in larger multifamily buildings (those with 50 units or more) during that decade.
In recent years, housing development has continued in Lynn, including development of larger multifamily buildings—a change from the previous decade. While recent development includes some mixed-income housing built by nonprofits working with the City, much of Lynn’s recent development has been market-rate housing marketed as “luxury.” One development currently under construction expects monthly rents in the mid $2,000s.
The lack of housing both locally and regionally has started to drive housing costs up in Lynn. The median price of condominiums increased 51% to $203,000 between 2010 and 2017, and the median price of single-family homes increased 66% to $315,000 over that same period. The price of duplexes and triplexes more than doubled. Between 2015 and 2018, median asking rents increased 26% to $1,575 per month for studio apartments, 51% to $1,700 for one-bedrooms, and 27% to $1,975 for two-bedrooms.
Deed-restricted Affordable Housing is a special category of housing that is held as affordable for low- and moderate-income households. (Learn more about this type of housing here) Lynn’s stock of state-registered, deed-restricted Affordable Housing units (called its “Subsidized Housing Inventory”) includes 4,435 homes, or 12.4% of Lynn’s total housing stock based on the last census. Because Lynn’s SHI is greater than 10% of all housing, the city is not subject to “Chapter 40B” development proposals, which can override local zoning. But this does not mean there is enough Affordable Housing to meet local need, with more than four low-income Lynn households for every one Affordable Housing unit.
More than 46% of Lynn households are cost burdened, meaning they pay 30% of income or more for housing—more than is affordable according to federal standards. Roughly 21% of households pay half their income or more for housing. Renters and low-income households pay a greater share of their income on housing than homeowners or higher-income households.