Building it Forward

March 8, 2016

Boston's not cheap.

According to, 67 percent of one-bedroom apartments in Boston rent for more than $2,000 a month. Vacancy rates are on par with New York City at around 2 percent and yearly rent increases are the norm.

To that end, unions representing construction workers in Boston have agreed to work for lower pay on projects that will provide more affordable rental housing. The Metropolitan Building Trades Council, which includes plumbers, painters, and electrical workers, is setting up units to specialize in apartment construction. Those units would be paid about one-third less than the unions' standard commercial rates in exchange for the projects being 100 percent union. The new apartments may rent for hundreds of dollars less each month due to union workers' efforts.

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, who was head of the trade unions in Boston before becoming mayor, wants to increase the number of affordable units in the city by 53,000 over the next two decades.

Trades council head Brian Doherty told The Boston Globe there is a dire need for more affordable housing in the region and his group wants to be part of the solution. Doherty also said that the lower-rate "package" will, in all likelihood, be used for middle-and lower-income projects in Boston but eventually will be offered in surrounding neighborhoods. For now, Doherty said the unions are looking for test projects for the new initiative.

Source: AP