Expanding Housing Choice


There are a number of tools available to municipalities interested in increasing their housing options. Amesbury is currently in the process of examining these. A consultant has been selected to document the existing housing stock and to identify policy changes that would help to meet the goal of expanding housing choice. 

There is a significant lack of available and affordable housing options for middle-income households in Amesbury. At the time of this writing there were zero affordable units affordable to low- and moderate-income persons available in our City. Many municipalities are tweaking their zoning code and adding bylaws to allow and encourage the production of a wider range of housing types including smaller, multi-family options. 

Additionally, there are a number of housing developments currently in the pipeline, located throughout the City. Many of these will include multi-family units. 

The "missing middle" describes a range of housing types between single-detached houses and apartment buildings that have gone ‘missing’ from many of our cities in the last 60 to 70 years. This includes housing types such as duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, rowhouses, townhouses, and clustered housing that is designed to be in scale with single-family housing. Around the world, as cities struggle to find ways to broaden housing choices, create walkable communities, and remain economically competitive, the ‘missing middle’ is increasingly central to their conversations as demand for such housing continues to grow.


The City can increase affordable housing through the Chapter 40B comprehensive permit process, or as allowed by Chapter 40R Smart Growth Overlay District zoning which requires that least 20% of the total units are affordable to low- and moderate-income households. A local example is Amesbury Heights, the first development in the Gateway 40R district which includes 60 affordable units out of a total of 240 units.

For other multifamily developments, the City’s affordable housing zoning ordinance requires that 15% of units be affordable. The unit or complex has a deed restriction that allows for the sale or rental of the property to remain affordable for a set number of years or in perpetuity. About 75% of Amesbury’s subsidized affordable housing inventory have permanent affordability guarantee


  • Long-Range Planning
  • Zoning Ordinance Updates
  • Large Redevelopment Sites
  • Discrete Smaller Redevelopment Projects

WHAT IS AFFORDABLE HOUSING?Afordable_Housing _Pie-02

If a household’s is spending more than 30% of their gross income toward housing, that household is considered housing cost burdened.

Amesbury Housing Statistics

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One-quarter (25%) of residents living in two-adult households and over 43% of those living in households of one adult and one child are not earning a living wage, disproportionately stressing seniors and renters*

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Over one-third (35%) of Amesbury’s households are cost-burdened, that is, that they spend too much for housing (more than 30% or more of their gross income)**

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Approximately 69% of residents are home-owners and 31% are renters*

Money IconOver half (64%) of renter householders in Amesbury and a quarter (25%) of owner households have incomes below 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI)**

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Housing prices in Amesbury have increased by an estimated 26% between Jan. 2019 and Dec. 2021*


* Neighborhood Economic Resilience Assessment, April 2022
** Amesbury Housing Production Plan, 2018

Demographic InfographicHousing Stock InfographicAffordability Infographic

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“While many of our colleagues at Imarc take advantage of remote work, our presence in Amesbury’s downtown is a benefit for those that do come in on a regular basis. This tends to be our local employees, who use our collaboration space and venture out for lunch and coffee. With the increased competition for housing space, many people are struggling to find places to live locally and are being forced to leave the area. When that happens Imarc’s space loses some of its value and Amesbury businesses lose a potential patron.” 

- Patrick McPhail, Partner, COO, Imarc, A Digital Agency