Copy of Housing

State of Housing in Salem

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Salem recognizes the community’s right to safe, affordable, and life-enriching housing. The City encourages the production of housing that meets the varied needs of its population at all price points. Salem also recognizes that quality housing can only exist where there is access to good jobs, transportation choice, and necessary community amenities.

With the cost of rents and mortgages being the single biggest expense for most households in Salem, many families are struggling to afford other necessities including healthy food, clothing, transportation and medical care. Likewise, a lack of housing choices is increasing the risk of displacement for many Salem residents.


HomeS for Salem

To help residents better understand the housing crisis in Salem and what can be done about it, the City and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council launched Homes for Salem, a four-part video series, that explains the importance of creating affordable housing policies in Salem.

Mayor Driscoll, Cynthia Nina-Soto, Andrew DeFranza, and Deputy Chief Dionne are among the many voices appearing in Homes for Salem.

Current salem Housing Figures

  • Salem median household income is 13% lower than the Commonwealth’s, but home prices are only 3% lower

  • For every four low-income Salem households, there is one affordable unit

  • 50% of Salem households are low income and 10% are moderate income

  • 67% of low-income households are cost burdened, as are 25% of moderate-income households

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  • The city needs 2,725 units of housing by 2030 to meet demand

  • Housing is very expensive to produce—$273.58 per square foot or $410,370 for a 1,500-square-foot home

  • Average household size is expected to decline to 2.2 people per household by 2030

Barriers to housing development

  • Unpredictable Permitting

    Housing development rarely occurs through “as-of-right” zoning.

  • Restrictive Zoning

    Regulations discourage flexible/more intensive uses of existing housing stock (e.g., accessory dwelling units).

  • Community Concerns

    Real and perceived development impacts can cause delays in development until the project is abandoned.

  • Development Costs

    The cost to build an affordable home exceeds the cost the developer is allowed to rent or sell it for.

Housing Development Costs.
Per Massachusetts Urban Projects, 2011-2015.

Housing Demand

Job growth has increased housing demand throughout the region, but housing production is far below historic peaks.

Metro Boston rents are among the highest in the nation and home prices are rising fastest in the inner core, which drives folks outwards in search of relatively more affordable housing.


Annual Housing Productions, Massachusetts. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, MassHousing Partnership.