By Bob Katzen
The House 150-1, approved and sent to the Senate a bill funding various state programs to construct and preserve affordable housing in the Bay State.
Provisions include $400 million for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund that funds a myriad of programs including help for first-time homebuyers $600 million to rehabilitate and modernize existing public housing; $60 million for disabled persons and seniors to renovate and modify their homes; and $100 million for innovative and alternative forms of rental housing including shelters for survivors of domestic violence, housing for seniors and veterans; transitional and permanent housing for the homeless; housing for recovering drug addicts; and $45 million for grants to non-profits for early education and out-of-school time program facilities that serve low income children.
Tax incentives include extending several existing tax credits including credits for companies that invest in affordable multifamily rental projects; credits for individuals who donate to community development corporations; credits for developers in Gateway Cities to construct or rehabilitate properties and create affordable and market-rate housing; and a credit to clean up contaminated sites known as brownfields.
“With the passage of this bond bill, we renew our commitment to affordable housing,” said House Speaker Bob DeLeo. “I’m particularly proud of the provisions that support housing for those with disabilities and improve facilities used for early education and care.”
“Individuals and families need access to safe housing, quality child care and jobs that allow them to support themselves,” said Michael Durkin, President and CEO of United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. “But high housing costs, a lack of affordable housing production, and low wages create significant barriers to opportunity and jeopardize our future workforce and economy. The Housing Bond Bill is essential to efforts to produce, preserve and modernize affordable housing in communities across the state.”
“Massachusetts ranks in the top three of per capita debt in the country,” said Rep. Jim Lyons (R-Andover), the lone member who opposed the package. “Our overall debt has increased from $19 billion to over $26 billion dollars since 2009. The overall debt per person in Massachusetts has grown from approximately $23,000 in 2010 to over $32,000 in 2016. Our overall spending is unsustainable. My job is to protect the hardworking taxpayers and families of my district and that is exactly what my vote does.”