Jun 3, 2024 - News

Massachusetts House Dems unveil $6.2B housing bond bill

Illustration of the Massachusetts State House with lines radiating from it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The debate over how to tackle Massachusetts' housing crisis is heating up on Beacon Hill.

The big picture: Top Democrats agree the state needs to build more and offer more affordable options, but getting there may depend on a series of last-minute backroom deals.

The latest: House Democrats plan to take up a $6.2 billion housing bond bill tomorrow.

Catch up fast: The House proposal is a redraft of a bill Gov. Maura Healey filed in the fall, which her office said would create roughly 40,000 homes.

  • The package includes a series of investments, tax breaks and zoning law changes.
  • Some state lawmakers, however, said the legislation needs more investments in housing programs and water system expansions.

Zoom in: The House bill adds $1 billion to expand the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority to the Ipswich River Basin Communities and the South Shore.

  • The move comes after several local officials raised concerns that they didn't have the water or sewage system capacity to handle multifamily housing construction, GBH News reported.

The House also nixed Healey's provision to let cities and towns impose a tax on home sales over $1 million, an idea that drew criticism from real estate leaders.

  • The bill does keep Healey's plan to allow accessory dwelling units by right in single-family zoning districts.

Reality check: The House and Senate are running up against a July 31 deadline that ends formal sessions until January, with several other bills and a budget proposal left unfinished.

  • State lawmakers might wait until the final minutes of formal session to unveil a compromise housing bill that would head to the governor's desk, or they might not reach a deal in time.

By the numbers: Here's some of what's in the bill:

💰 $2 billion to repair, renovate and modernize public housing units, more than $400 million higher than Healey's proposal.

  • 25% of the money would preserve housing for those who earn 30% of the area median income (AMI).

💰 $150 million to "decarbonize" public housing stock, the same as Healey's pitch.

💰 $15 million for accessibility upgrades, same as Healey's.

💰 $800 million for the affordable housing trust fund, which provides resources to create or preserve housing for those earning under 100% of AMI.

  • Healey's bill proposed the same amount but for households earning up to 110% of AMI.

💰 $200 million to support single-person occupancy units as transitional and permanent housing for unhoused people, seniors and veterans, among others.

  • 25% of the funds would go to people earning below 30% AMI.

💰 $250 million to accelerate the development of mixed-income multifamily housing.

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