Affordable Housing Strategies

Mayor Christenson and the Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development (OSPCD) are responding to the housing crisis and increasing the supply of affordable housing in Malden. The challenge is significant, with less than one affordable housing unit for every three low-income cost-burdened households who need one. From helping low-income residents stay in their homes during the pandemic to funding the development of new affordable housing, the City is pursuing a range of strategies to meet the community's housing needs.

Building affordable housing requires a lot of things to go right: project financing, zoning, land acquisition, and more. While affordable housing is almost always built by non-profit or for-profit developers, and not directly by the government, the City of Malden is actively encouraging affordable housing development throughout Malden. OSPCD works directly with affordable housing developers to help their projects come to fruition, and provides financial and other support to help projects get built. The City has a number of affordable housing projects in the development pipeline at any given time, ranging from the idea stage to active construction.

Malden’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund Board awarded more than $800,000 to two affordable housing projects in October 2023, marking the first time that the Board awarded funds to housing development projects. The Board awarded $373,625 to 213 Main Street, and $450,000 to 272-274 Cross Street. More information about the Affordable Housing Trust Fund is available at cityofmalden.org/ahtf.

Malden received $46 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, which Mayor Christenson allocated to 10 committees. The ARPA Housing Subcommittee was allocated approximately $5 million to support the development of affordable housing. Chaired by Councillor Amanda Linehan and OSPCD Director Deborah Burke, the subcommittee has awarded funds to 213 Main Street, 272 Cross Street, and the creation of the Housing Program Coordinator role. Click here for up-to-date information on the subcommittee.

Malden's Affordable Housing Trust Fund hired a consultant, Karl F. Seidman Consulting Services, to conduct a linkage fee nexus study, which is the first step in exploring a linkage fee on new commercial development to fund affordable housing. The study, which is primarily driven by economic data and development trends, will examine how commercial development impacts the City's affordable housing needs, the costs associated with those unmet affordable housing needs, the effect of a potential fee on future commercial development, and various linkage fee scenarios. The study is expected to be completed in late spring or early summer 2024.

✅ Create new Office of Housing Stability (May 2022)

Mayor Christenson, with support from OSPCD, established a new City office, the Office of Housing Stability, to help residents with housing needs like rental assistance, eviction prevention, mediation, and other housing needs. The City contracted with Housing Families, Inc. to administer the Office, which is a natural evolution of the COVID-era rental assistance and eviction prevention programs. Click here to learn more about the Office of Housing Stability.

✅ Inclusionary Zoning Adopted (October 2021)

Following the completion of the inclusionary zoning feasibility analysis, the Mayor proposed and the City Council approved an inclusionary zoning ordinance that requires developers to provide 15% of units in new residential buildings developments as income-restricted affordable housing. The ordinance applies to projects with eight or more units, and requires that units be affordable at 50% of the Area Median Income for rental units and 80% of the Area Median Income for homeownership units. The ordinance also provides incentives for affordable housing development, including a density bonus and reduced parking parking requirements.

✅ Eviction Moratorium & Eviction Prevention Program (2020-22)

The state's eviction moratorium expired in late 2020, but thousands of Malden residents were still at risk of eviction. In response, Mayor Christenson and the Board of Health issued an Eviction Moratorium by executive order, which prevented most residential evictions from being enforced with exceptions for health and safety reasons. The moratorium was in place for more than 400 days.

At the same time that the eviction moratorium was put in place, the City and Malden Redevelopment Authority (now OSPCD) launched an eviction prevention program, which ran from late 2020 to 2022. This program served hundreds of households with legal assistance, rental assistance, and mediation. As part of the program, every Malden tenant facing eviction who showed up in court was offered assistance - by Just-A-Start Corporation in Housing Court and by Housing Families, Inc. in District Court. As a result of these efforts, the Boston Globe wrote that "no city has done more" to stop evictions during the pandemic than Malden.

 COVID-19 Rental Assistance Program (2020)

When the pandemic hit, the City of Malden and the Malden Redevelopment Authority (MRA, now OSPCD) immediately began working on an emergency rental assistance program to help residents stay in their homes. The program, administered by the MRA, used $500,000 in federal CDBG CARES Act funds and $300,000 in local Community Preservation Act funds to help approximately 200 low-income households stay in their homes. Just-A-Start and ABCD were contracted by the MRA to help administer the program.

At the end of 2020, the City and MRA launched another rental assistance program aimed at clearing 2020 rent debt for low-income households. As part of the program, larger landlords agreed to forgive a percentage of their tenants' rent debt in exchange for City rental assistance, which led to the City's funds being able to serve more residents. This program used approximately $500,000 in state CvRF-MP funds, ran from November to December 2020 through a partnership with Housing Families, Inc.

Establish the Affordable Housing Trust Fund (November 2019)

First proposed by Mayor Christenson in September 2019, the Affordable Housing Trust Fund (AHTF) was created by the City Council in November of that year. The Mayor and Council seeded the fund with approximately $1 million to advance the City’s affordable housing goals. The Trust, which began meeting in January 2020, acts as the City’s primary advisor on affordable housing policy, under the guidance of the Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development (OSPCD). You can learn more about the Trust and its work here.

 Analyze Inclusionary Zoning Feasibility (September 2019)

In September 2019, Mayor Christenson and the City Council authorized an inclusionary zoning feasibility analysis. Inclusionary zoning is a policy that requires developers of market-rate housing to build a percentage of their units as affordable, or to contribute financially to affordable housing. The feasibility analysis was the first step toward developing and ultimately adopting the City's inclusionary zoning policy. The feasibility analysis is available here. A presentation to the City Council on the findings and recommendations can be viewed here.

 Complete the Housing Needs Assessment (June 2019)

The City, in partnership with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, completed and published Malden’s Housing Needs Assessment in June 2019. The Assessment revealed a number of housing challenges facing Malden residents, and contributed to new housing strategies adopted by the City. Click here to read the full HNA. Some key findings are below, current as of June 2019:

  • Malden has a significant affordable housing shortage, with fewer than one deed-restricted affordable unit for every three cost-burdened low-income households.
  • Approximately half (47%) of Malden households are cost burdened, meaning they pay more than 30% of their income on housing costs
  • 56% of renters and 34% of homeowners are cost burdened
  • About half of cost-burdened households are severely cost burdened (more than 50% of income on housing)
  • Most Malden households cannot afford to rent or buy in Malden today without becoming cost burdened.
  • The median household would spend 42% of their income on the median rent ($2,100); renter households would spend 50%.
  • Expanding the housing supply, especially Affordable units, will help reduce local and regional market pressure.