40B Housing is a chapter in Massachusetts’ Affordable Housing Law enacted in 1969.
It was created after the state legislature noticed all the barriers involved in developing affordable housing. Before 40B housing was established, there were practically no affordable housing programs existed.
It has produced over 58,000 units of housing for individuals, families, veterans, elderly, disabled and special needs families in Massachusetts since then.
The chapter states that developers are allowed more flexible zoning bylaws, so they are able to increase the amount of affordable housing in each town. In other words, 40B housing is granted more flexible zoning bylaws in exchange for at least 20 to 25% of the units having long term affordability restrictions.
Chapter 40B does not allow developers to override state and federal statutes and regulations, including state and federal environmental protections.
Qualifying for 40B Housing
To qualify for 40B housing, there are certain requirements you must meet. To qualify for 40B housing you must:
- Income within the limit established
- First-time home owners, with a few exceptions (View exceptions below)
- Live in the home as a principal residence
- Agree to a deed restriction that describes the responsibilities you will have as an affordable unit owner
- Assets must be below $75,000
** Personal property, such as cars and furniture are not included in your assets**
Home Owner Exceptions
There are circumstances in which individuals and families that aren’t first time home owners have qualified for 40B housing. These exceptions are usually made in the following situations:
- Single parents, or legally separated from the spouse and is pregnant or has full or joint custody of 1 or more children.
- Families with at least 1 member 55 years of age or older.
- Displaced homemakers, for example a stay-at-home parent that is unemployed and whose spouse is no longer willing to support
- Individual or family that owned a previous property that was not in compliance with local or state building codes and the costs of bringing it up to code would be more that purchasing a new property
Income Limits for 40B Housing
Income limits for 40B housing vary by area. Similar to Section 8 and other housing programs, 40B housing calculates its income limits using the area’s median income.
The HUD updates each area’s median income every year and uploads them to their website. If you would like to view your area’s median income, click HERE.
Once the page loads you will be able to select the median income charts for individuals or for families. Select the option that suits you. Once the next page loads you simply select your state and county and you should see the area’s information.
Applying for 40B Housing
Applying for 40B housing varies depending on where you choose to live. First you will need to find a unit that is covered by 40B housing.
To find units that are covered under 40B housing you can check realtor websites, local classifieds and even ask local realtors around town.
If a unit is covered under 40B housing, it should be in the add and usually will have the application form attached as well. Make sure to fill out all the information following the instructions carefully and truthfully.
Any small detail can get your application denied. Be sure to have all your documentation showing proof of the information you provided during the application.
You must have a pre-approval from a mortgage lender as well. This is a very important step. Without this, your application will be denied.
The Citizens’ Housing & Planning Association, also known as CHAPA, has a website dedicated to help people find affordable housing in Massachusetts and it’s very simple to use.
Simply click on the area you’re interested in on the Massachusetts map and you will be redirected to a list of all the available units in that area. Click HERE to visit the CHAPA website.
Keep in mind that affordable housing is not the same thing as low-income housing.
40B housing requires individuals or families to earn no more than 80% of the area’s median income, which can actually be quite expensive in some areas.
So, is 40B housing a good idea for you? Well, that is up to you, but we can say it is definitely a great option for those who qualify and are looking to purchase their first home.