Lack of Housing Inventory Contributes to Homeless in Massachusetts

According to the latest data gathered by the Massachusetts Association of Realtors, home sales throughout the state fell dramatically when comparing November data to the same time last year. This decline in sales affected both condos and single-family homes, with sales of single-family homes being down 0.9 percent and condo sales being down 11.7 percent when comparing year-over-year data. At the same time, prices continued to go up. For median single-family homes, the price went up 4.1 percent to $395,000 during this same timeframe, while condo sales went up 1.4 percent to $375,000.

Not surprisingly, this tight market has also resulted in annual declines in inventory for both single-family homes and condos. Not only is this trend problematic for those who are interested in purchasing a home in the area, as there are very few choices available, but recent data indicates that the lack of inventory may be contributing to a rise in homelessness in the state of Massachusetts.

Examining the Homeless Problem in Massachusetts

A recent federal report shows that the number of homeless people in Massachusetts increased by 14 percent from 2017 to 2018 to a whopping 20,068, making it the highest level of homelessness the state has experienced since 2013. While there was an overall national increase in homeless, the national average was far smaller at just 0.3 percent.

While a number of different factors could be contributing to the homeless trend in Massachusetts, experts agree that the biggest cause is simply a lack of housing options. This is particularly true in the Boston area where even those with the proper subsidies are struggling to find an available place to live.

Given the primary cause of the increase in homelessness in Massachusetts, it is not surprising to learn that the problem is affecting younger people at a particularly high rate. In 2018, the number of homeless people without children between the ages of 18 and 24 increased 11 percent. This is the highest increase within this demographic that the state has experienced since the feds started keeping records in 2015. While Boston is making a serious effort to add tens of thousands of new housing units at various price points throughout the city before 2030, much work is still left to be done to address its homelessness issue.

Taking a Closer Look at Price Points

Of course, housing costs are still quite high in the Boston area, creating another obstacle for those who are looking for a place to live. According to a recent analysis conducted by real estate research site NeighborhoodX, the average asking price for market-rate homes in the more expensive Boston markets – such as Back Bay, Beacon Hill and other downtown areas – converge at around $1,200 to $1,300 per square foot. In less expensive areas such as Hyde Park, Mattapan and Roxbury, on the other hand, the prices converge at around $300 per square foot. Overall, prices by the end of December ranged from as low as $159 per square foot in Mattapan to $3,857 per square foot at Back Bay.

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