The City of Boston is a huge landowner.   Most of the surplus land and buildings were foreclosed on because the owners didn’t pay their taxes.

These properties could easily be sold off and used to build new housing for people of all incomes.

The City of New York has done this.

Jennifer Steinhauer, New York Times

During the 1970s and 1980s, officials in New York City seized 5,000 vacant lots from delinquent taxpayers. All but 248 have been sold, and the remaining lots are now being offered to developers of low-income housing. There’s a lesson here on low-income housing, say officials.

Most of the lots are in Queens, Brooklyn, and Upper Manhattan. Developers are lining up to purchase and build on city-owned land, mainly because it is cheaper than the other parcels available for development.

By agreeing to build below-market-rate dwellings, these developers have access to attractive financing packages and tax incentives. Those who wish to be put at the top of the list of purchasers must be willing to reserve more than the required number of units for lower-income households and include energy-saving appliances and other environmentally friendly features in their designs.

According to city housing preservation and development commissioner Shaun Donovan, “What’s really different here is that we are changing the rules. We’re saying the developer who wins is the one with the most affordability.”

Complete article: Coming Full Circle, City to Sell Blighted Lots

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