Clive McFarlane: Affordable housing gains in Worcester hurt by neighboring towns

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Earlier this week, the Worcester Regional Research Bureau published a brief indicating that only 46 of 351 Massachusetts communities have achieved a state guideline (Chapter 40B) requiring at least 10 percent of their housing to be qualified as affordable.

Indeed, while Worcester has 13.4 percent of its housing units qualifying as affordable, the Research Bureau points out that none of the surrounding towns comes close to the 10 percent threshold, with Shrewsbury, 6.2 percent, being the highest of the surrounding towns, and Boylston, 1.4 percent, the lowest.

Worcester’s compliance relative to its neighbors “forces questions about the responsibility of surrounding towns to accommodate low-income residents,” the Bureau noted, arguing that the Chapter 40B law is not working and asking questions such as whether it should be made mandatory, or amended to provide developers with incentives to build affordable housing.

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