By Bob Katzen
Senate 34-0, approved a bill funding many programs to construct, preserve and rehabilitate affordable housing in the Bay State. The package is a bond bill under which the funding would be borrowed by the state through the sale of bonds.
Provisions include $600 million for the renovation, remodeling, repair and improvement of existing public housing; $400 million for the development and preservation of affordable and mixed income housing for households whose incomes are less than 110 per cent of the national median income; $60 million for disabled persons and seniors to renovate and modify their homes; $65 million for housing for individuals with mental illness or intellectual disabilities; $100 million for the development of alternative forms of rental and ownership housing, including housing for people in recovery from substance use disorder; 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 the Community Investment Tax Credit from December 31, 2019 to December 31, 2025 for taxpayers who make cash contributions to community partners investing in economic opportunities for low- and moderate-income households; increasing from $50 million to $55 million the total annual amount that the state is allowed to give as a Massachusetts historic rehabilitation tax credit; providing an additional $5 million per year to the Massachusetts low-income housing tax credit program for projects that preserve and improve existing state or federally assisted housing; and increasing the credit to clean up contaminated sites known as brownfields.
“Our affordable housing shortage has placed the commonwealth’s financial health at risk,” said Sen. Joseph Boncore (D-Winthrop), chair of the Committee on Housing. “The housing bond bill is the first step toward ensuring Massachusetts develops enough affordable housing to support both its workforce and its economic future.”
“The housing bond bill we passed today reflects our commitment to providing housing that is affordable to the vital and diverse workforce that is fueling the commonwealth’s economic growth,” said Sen. John Keenan (D-Quincy).
“The high cost of housing across Massachusetts strains family incomes and local businesses,” said Senate Ways and Means chair Sen. Karen Spilka (D-Ashland). “These investments are an important step to create more affordable, livable communities, support a growing, healthy economy and expand access to quality housing for everyone.”
The House approved a different version of the package on January 24. A House-Senate conference committee will likely work out a compromise bill.