1970s–Present: Local Preferences

In order to make affordable housing more politically acceptable, many municipalities use “local preferences” when determining eligibility for housing projects. Such preferences, however, make it difficult for people outside the community to move into the suburbs. The Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development stipulates that cities and towns can specify preferences for up to 70% of affordable units. Such preferences include current residents, municipal/school department employees, and employees of local businesses. 

Other guidelines regarding local preferences for affordable housing developments include:

  • communities must demonstrate the need for local preferences and demonstrate that it will not have a disparate impact on protected classes;
  • the subsidizing agency must approve of the local preference scheme, ideally prior to the finalization of the comprehensive permit;
  • the plan clarifies that durational residential preferences are not permitted;
  • advertising cannot include any local preferences.