What is a Housing Production Plan?

What is a Housing Production Plan?


Smart Growth & Regional Collaboration


HPPs help municipalities better understand local housing need and demand, development constraints and opportunities, and their vision for the future housing landscape. 

HPPs analyze how populations may change and establish policies and programs that address shifting demand. Communities 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. HPPs also help cities and towns meet their statutory obligations under M.G.L. Chapter 40B.

A HPP is approved by DHCD for a five-year period, and consists of:

  • Data. An assessment of housing need and demand based on current data, population and development trends, and regional growth factors
  • Limitations. An analysis of physical and regulatory development constraints
  • Locations. Identification of specific sites for housing production
  • Goals. Housing goals, including an annual numerical housing production target
  • Strategies. Implementation strategies including tools and strategies to achieve goals

MAPC has worked with dozens of communities to develop Housing Production Plans (HPPs) that support increased housing choices for a variety of households with a broad range of incomes, and that help municipalities guide the type, amount, and location of new development.

How does it work?

MAPC begins a HPP by analyzing local demographic and housing data and projections, and creating a comprehensive need and demand assessment, with an analysis of development constraints.

Our staff assists with community outreach throughout the planning process. Outreach often includes a community survey and small group discussions. A public forum is often held to share the findings of the need and demand assessment, identify housing opportunities and sites, and develop preliminary housing goals. Another forum may be scheduled to finalize the goals and present possible implementation strategies. Our trained community engagement team, working with our housing staff, can help plan exercises that elicit a variety of housing stories and convey information about housing need and context-sensitive development, amongst other things.

Using data and community feedback, MAPC assists cities and towns with a visioning process to determine housing goals, implementation strategies, and identify specific sites that are suitable for housing development.

MAPC presents the final HPP to the Planning Board and Board of Selectmen or City Council for local adoption, then submits it to DHCD for approval. DHCD conducts a 30-day completeness review and offers the municipality the opportunity to respond with additional information, if necessary. DHCD has 90 days to approve the HPP after determining it is complete. If the plan is not approved, DHCD will provide specific feedback and a revised HPP can be submitted at any time.

Affordable housing

Housing is considered affordable when it costs 30% or less of a household’s income. Affordable Housing is deed-restricted housing that eligible low- and moderate-income residents can afford by paying no more than 30% of their annual household income.

Affordable Housing has restrictions to preserve affordability for decades or in perpetuity, ensuring that lower-income households can stay in their communities without having to make difficult decisions, such as skipping meals or doctor’s appointments to have enough money to pay for their home.

Learn about affordable housing:

Massachusetts - Affordable Housing

HUD - Affordable Housing

HUD – Income Limits


The Massachusetts SHI is used to measure each community’s stock of low- and moderate-income housing for the purposes of M.G.L. Chapter 40B.

The SHI is determined as a percentage of the entire housing stock per the latest U.S. Decennial Census.

Learn more about the SHI:


The goal of Chapter 40B is to encourage the production of affordable housing in communities throughout the Commonwealth, especially those with less than 10% subsidized housing.

Chapter 40B is a state statute that requires municipalities to increase and maintain their Affordable Housing inventories at 10% of their total year-round housing stock. If Affordable Housing in a community is under 10%, developers may petition the local Zoning Boards of Appeals (ZBA) for a permit for housing developments with at least 20-25% Affordable units even though they do not fully comply with local zoning; the ZBA has limited grounds for refusal.

Through Chapter 40B, affordable housing has been produced that in most cases could not have been built under local zoning. Developments created under Chapter 40B include church-sponsored housing for the elderly, single-family subdivisions that include affordable units, adaptive reuse projects, multifamily rental housing developments, and mixed-income townhouse or condominium developments.

Under Chapter 40B, a Housing Production Plan (HPP) helps communities understand and track their supply of Affordable Housing, as well as housing in general.

Learn about M.G.L. Chapter 40B:

Safe Harbor

Communities have three mechanisms for claiming “Safe Harbor” and thereby denying a developer a Comprehensive Permit

  1. HPP Certification.
    If a municipality has a locally adopted and state approved HPP and is making measurable progress toward reaching the state goal of 10% Affordable Housing by producing Affordable Housing units at an annual rate of 0.5% or 1% of its year-round housing units (Safe Harbor is for a 1-year or 2-year period, respectively).
  2. 10% on the Subsidized Housing Inventory (SHI).
    If more than 10% of a community’s total housing stock as counted by the U.S. Decennial Census is deed-restricted Affordable.
  3. 1.5% General Land Area Minimum (GLAM).
    If 1.5% of the municipality’s total area zoned for residential, commercial, or industrial use is dedicated to deed-restricted Affordable Housing. Malden is investigating eligibility under the 1.5% land area criteria.

Currently, 10.1% of Malden’s housing stock is on the SHI, but the percentage will likely decrease following the 2020 U.S. Decennial Census.

Learn more about Safe Harbor: