Affordable housing in Boston and beyond


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What is affordable housing?

Affordable housing on Metrolist includes properties with restrictions on the income and assets you can earn and hold to rent or buy them. For example:

These programs and opportunities may place limits on the value of assets you can hold.

Using the term affordable housing

Metrolist also uses affordable housing as a relative term. This means that aside from income-restricted properties, we include private market listings where rent is more affordable.

These properties do not have an income or asset requirement, but may require a credit or background check, or both.

You can apply for affordable rental and homeownership opportunities developed through programs such as the City's Inclusionary Development Program and the Neighborhood Homes Initiative. These affordable housing opportunities largely target middle-income households.

Selection for these opportunities are done by lottery. The developments and programs have different income and asset requirements as well as preferences. For more details on any specific lottery, contact the lottery agent or realtor listed for the property that interests you.

  1. Applying. Interested applicants should contact the agent or department listed on the advertisement for details and deadlines. Applicants must obtain a new application for each lottery; there is not a centralized list.
  2. Pre-Screening. Completed applicants will be prescreened for eligibility.
  3. Lottery Selection. The Office of Fair Housing oversees the random selection of applicants from the pool, creating a lottery list. Applicable preferences may move an applicant up or down on the list. The marketing agent maintains the list.
  4. Final Screening and Certification. The applicants at the top of the list will be more fully screened and have their eligibility certified.
  5. Offer of Housing. Selected applicants are notified.
Interested in Buying?

If you are interested in purchasing an affordable unit, please contact the listing agent or owner on record to begin the process. After your offer has been accepted, the Department of Neighborhood Development will need to verify your income to ensure the guidelines for the property are met.

Interested in Selling?

If you are interested in selling your unit, please submit a Notice of Intent to Sell form in order to obtain a Certificate of Maximum Resale Price.

Public Housing is housing owned and operated by a local housing authority, such as the Boston Housing Authority. This type of housing is funded by a number of state and federal programs to help low-income individuals, families, the elderly, and the disabled.  For more details on public housing programs, visit Boston Housing Authority (BHA) or HUD websites.

Rental Assistance Programs provide financial aid (vouchers) to help low-income households rent apartments. The value of the voucher is determined by household income, size and geography and can be used in private market housing. Examples of rental assistance include Section 8, the Mass Rental Voucher Program (MRVP) and Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH).

Privately Owned Subsidized Housing is owned and operated by private owners who receive subsidies for renting to low and moderate-income households.

Tax Credit Units provide an affordable housing option for moderate or middle-income households.

  • MassHousing: MassHousing finances construction and preservation of affordable rental housing in Massachusetts and maintains a list of its projects with affordable housing.
  • MassAccess Housing Registry: MassAccess Housing Registry highlights rental and homeownership opportunities for people with disabilities who need accessible or barrier-free housing.
  • Citizens Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA): CHAPA lists affordable homeownership opportunities in Massachusetts.
  • HUD Low Rent Apartment Search: HUD maintains a database of affordable apartments in Massachusetts.
  • Nesterly: Nesterly is an intergenerational homeshare service that connects empty-nesters/retirees in need of extra income with young people looking for affordable housing. 
City of Cambridge
Community Development Department
Maloney Properties
MCO Housing Services
Metro West Collaborative Development
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