Updated Oct 19, 2023 - Real Estate

What to know about Healey's $4 billion housing bill

Illustration of a repeating pattern of houses made out of hundred dollar bills.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Gov. Maura Healey unveiled a $4 billion housing bond bill Wednesday that's meant to help alleviate the state's housing crisis.

Why it matters: The rising cost of living and influx of migrant families has only exacerbated Massachusetts' housing problems.

Driving the news: The proposal would make historic housing investments and loosen policy restrictions to help create tens of thousands of homes across the state.

  • One of the biggest changes it proposes is letting local officials charge transfer fees of 0.5% - 2% on property sales over $1 million to fund affordable housing development.
  • Local leaders currently need approval from state lawmakers to levy real-estate transfer fees.

Other major provisions of the bill would:

🏘 Let single-family homeowners build accessory dwelling units of up to 900 square feet without a special permit.

🤐 Let renters get certain no-fault evictions sealed after three years and other evictions sealed after seven years.

🗳 Lower the threshold for approving local inclusionary zoning ordinances from a two-thirds majority to a simple majority of elected officials.

Yes, but: The package has to get through the House and Senate, where lawmakers have all but ignored local bills to increase real estate transfer fees for million-dollar home sales in Boston, Somerville and Concord.

  • Parts of Healey's plan will likely face opposition from real estate industry groups.
  • Transfer taxes are "an unstable source of revenue that would cause more harm than good at a time when people and businesses are leaving the state because it is just too expensive," Greg Vasil, CEO of the Greater Boston Real Estate Board, said in a statement. He said he supports "the goals" of Healey's bond bill.

State of play: Lawmakers have until next July when the legislative session winds down to take up Healey's housing bill.

  • Both House Speaker Ron Mariano and Senate President Karen Spilka's offices said they're reviewing it.

By the numbers: The Healey administration estimates her proposal would help create, preserve or improve 65,000 homes statewide.

  • About $1.6 billion would go toward repairing and modernizing the state's public housing stock.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify that the housing bill would allow accessory dwelling units without a special permit.


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