Document Type

Research Report

Publication Date



Most of the recent analyses of Boston's housing problem reveal a complex and contradictory mix of positive trends and negative factors, clouded by a growing percentage of poor and near-poor resident households in the City and declining commitments by the federal government to housing, particularly for subsidies of new housing production.

That Boston's housing problem, unlike that of many other large cities, is of manageable proportions, however, is attributable mainly to the following demographic trends and forecasts that are not likely to exacerbate the problem and that many even ease some of the most serious current and future pressures of housing demand:

  1. The 12 percent decline in 1980 population over 1970 and a projected decline in the total number of City residents to under 450,000 by the year 2000, assuming an average household size of 2.0 persons and no net increase in the overall housing supply.
  2. The anticipated stabilization over the next two decades in the City's total number of resident households at the 220,000 level and the continuing contraction in average household size that will increase the number of one-and two-person households in Boston to 70 percent of the total, as compared with 58 percent in 1970.

Moreover, the City's housing stock, despite the diverse pattern of its structural and maintenance conditions, neighborhood disparities in relative market strength and varying vulnerability of subneighborhoods to resident displacement, is characterized by a number of favorable elements that can be used as catalysts for revitalizing many of Boston's residential neighborhoods.


Prepared for the John W. McCormack Institute of Public Affairs.



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