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Boston Apartment Rent Growth Slows Down

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh is departing for President-elect Joe Biden's Cabinet.

Apartment rent increases in Boston may be as much of a guarantee as death and taxes, but the city saw its slowest rent growth in 2019 since officials began tracking it six years ago. 

Last year’s 1.3% increase marked the lowest year-over-year apartment rent increase, according to city analysis Boston Mayor Martin Walsh’s administration released Wednesday. The rent growth dropped from a 3.3% citywide increase in 2018. 

"The stabilization of rents across our neighborhoods demonstrates our housing plan in action," Walsh said in a statement. "We know housing is the cornerstone of creating more opportunities for all, and we will continue our work producing and preserving housing for our residents. While I know we have more work to do to keep pace with the demand for affordable housing, I am encouraged by this milestone and look forward to keeping up this momentum."

Some neighborhoods saw no increases or even a reduction in rent. Studio rents decreased in Charlestown, Dorchester, East Boston and Jamaica Plain. One-bedroom rents in Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Charlestown and South Boston had similar rent reductions. 

Rents for studios, one-bedroom apartments and two-bedroom apartments in Roxbury remained flat. 

Increased housing production in the Fenway, Mattapan and South Boston neighborhoods kept rents flat on two- and three-bedroom apartments, according to the Walsh administration data.  

Walsh cited ongoing city efforts to boost affordable and market-rate housing production as instrumental in the stabilized growth. He has pledged $500M to create and preserve affordable housing over the next five years. The city has also permitted 23,000 new rental units throughout Boston, 24% of which are income-restricted, according to the Walsh administration. 

"We're on the right path, but we have a long way to go,” Metropolitan Area Planning Council Executive Director Marc Draisen said in a statement. “We need to make sure more communities around the region do their part to provide homes for all the people powering the regional economy, especially lower-income residents and families. Boston can't solve the housing shortage on its own."