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Boston’s best idea of 2018: Build new homes, and lots of ‘em!

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In early October, mayors from 15 cities and towns came together with one painfully obvious goal in mind. About time.

Michael Moloney/Shutterstock

On October 2, a coalition of 15 Boston-area mayors announced a commitment to facilitating the construction of 185,000 new housing units by 2030.

What’s more, the coalition—which included the mayors of Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, and Newton—committed to backing a wide variety of housing within that 185,000, from units designated as affordable to ones with services for people with special needs to housing for those with moderate incomes by Boston-area standards.

The reason for the grand announcement and the even grander ambition behind it was pretty straightforward and no longer escapable: The Boston region is growing rapidly and it needs more housing.

The region is already one of the most expensive in the nation for either renting or buying; and the population growth only worsens conditions. As the mayors noted in their October 2 announcement, their 15 cities and towns have added nearly 110,000 residents and 148,000 new jobs since 2010.

During the same period, however, the 15 together have permitted only 32,500 new housing units. See the problem?

Meanwhile, the region is on track to add tens of thousands of more jobs by 2030. And, while some municipalities have barreled ahead with their own plans to build—Boston is probably the most notable—the mayors said they see a collective effort as necessary given the often blurred boundaries of the dense region.

Thus, as simple and obvious as it sounds, this mayoral commitment to building more housing sooner rather than later marks the single, best idea in the Boston area in 2018.

Whether this ideation translates into meaningful action remains to be seen. Stay tuned.