Community Resources

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Massachusetts is facing a chronic housing shortage that has sent home prices and rents soaring. This burdens families and individuals and hinders growth in the Commonwealth. Families have been priced out of the cities and towns they live in and older residents cannot afford to downsize. Our teachers and municipal workers often cannot live in the community they serve and are instead forced into long commutes. Many current zoning laws allow only single-family homes in large areas of cities and towns, rendering them unable to build the kind of accessible and sustainable housing necessary to rectify this issue.
The MBTA Communities Zoning Law, passed in 2021, requires 177 “MBTA communities” to designate properties for multi-family housing (3+ units) seeking to address these issues. It requires communities in Massachusetts that benefit from MBTA service to create a zoning district of “reasonable size” in which multi-family housing (defined as at least three units on a single lot) is allowed by right. Malden is one of the 12 rapid transit communities that are required to comply. The Malden City Council adopted the new zoning in December 2023. The purpose of the new law is to encourage the production of multifamily housing, this is not a housing production mandate.

The zoning law requires that:

  • Properties are used to comply with state-prescribed amounts of multi-family housing
  • The zoning district has a minimum gross density of 15 units per acre
  • The zoning district has a minimum land area of 50 acres or less, depending on the type of MBTA community
  • The zoning district is located not more than 0.5 miles from a commuter rail station, subway station, ferry terminal, or bus station
  • The zoning district is suitable for families with children and has no age restrictions
  • The zoning district has at least one zoning district of reasonable size that allows multifamily housing development without a discretionary permitting process

The new zoning creates an overlay with a series of subdistricts that focus on multifamily development capacity and mixed-use development around their two station areas, Malden Center and Oak Grove. Malden’s zoning must allow for a minimum multi-family capacity of 6,930 units to comply with the new law. This number includes existing units for a proposed net new zoned units of approximately 250-1,600. Below you will find a map of all of the communities impacted by this law.


MBTA Communities map

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