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Boston Mayor Michelle Wu proposes measures to address city's housing shortage
January 10 2024, 08:00

Making it easier for Boston homeowners to create smaller, independent living units inside their homes or yards is just one of the proposals offered by Boston Mayor Michelle Wu in her annual State of the City address Tuesday,

The proposal — a modest effort in part to address the city's housing shortage — would streamline efforts by homeowner to construct the accessory dwelling units "to expand lower-cost housing options, empower residents to build wealth, and foster diverse, multigenerational living spaces," Wu said.

It was also a more modest proposal than those championed by the Democrat when she was running for the office in 2021 — proposals like making greater Boston's MBTA public transit system free. So far, a few bus lines are operating fair-free.


Wu pointed to a series of actions including working to ban fossil fuels in new city buildings, introducing zero net carbon zoning and launching Boston’s first-ever networked geothermal system aimed at delivering clean energy for heating and cooling to hundreds of families.

She said the city has launched a program to convert office buildings into residential complexes that have already attracted proposals to turn eight downtown buildings into housing. To tackle traffic, the city is using machine learning to detect where congestion is worst, then optimize signals to unclog key corridors.

Other goals outlined by Wu include preserving existing affordable housing across Boston’s neighborhoods and adding 50 electric school buses this year, more than doubling the current fleet of electric buses.


She also announced that starting in February, every Boston Public School student and up to three family members will get free admission on the first and second Sundays of each month, to a slew of cultural institutions, including the Boston Children’s Museum, the Franklin Park Zoo, the Institute of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of Science, and the New England Aquarium.

Wu said she was inspired by a story that her mother, a Taiwanese immigrant then struggling to understand a foreign language, told her about the time she took her in a stroller to a downtown museum on a Tuesday when admission was free so she could stare up at a painting of a cliff full of wildflowers.

"In this moment, this mom with no money and no words in this language feels like the best mom on earth because she has given her daughter the world for a day," Wu said. "Tonight, her daughter gets to announce a new program for kids all across Boston, to feel at home in the places that show them the world."