Governor Maura Healey’s administration on Wednesday unveiled a $4.12 billion housing bond bill aimed at creating tens of thousands of residential units across the state. The bill proposes more than two dozen policy changes and three executive orders. State lawmakers have until July 2024 to vote on it.
Here’s a breakdown of ten things to know about the wide-ranging bill, including what’s not included.
The Affordable Homes Act, by the numbers:
- $4.12 billion: Amount of funding proposed, more than double the $1.8 billion authorized in 2018′s housing bond bill
- 40,000: How many homes the bill aims to create, including 8,000 accessory dwelling units
- 25,000: How many additional homes could be rehabilitated or preserved as a result of the bill
- 120: Advocates, developers, public housing residents and authority directors the state sought input from as it crafted the bill
So what’s in it? These are some of the major pieces of the legislation.
Local option transfer tax: The bill allows for municipalities and regional affordable housing commissions to assess a tax of between 0.5 percent and 2 percent on property that sells for more than $1 million or the county’s median home sales price, whichever is higher, and put that funding toward affordable housing development.
Accessory dwelling units: Units less than 900 square feet in size — either attached to homes or separate — could be built by right in single-family zoning districts across the Commonwealth. State officials say they hope the policy could create more than 8,000 ADUs in five years.
Seasonal communities: The housing crunch is intensely felt in many seasonal destinations, such as Cape Cod and the Berkshires, where the residential and employment landscape is much different than the rest of the state. Much like Massachusetts’ “gateway cities” like Lawrence and Lynn that have unique tax credit programs and other initiatives, the Healey administration wants to begin designating “seasonal communities” and design policies to serve their needs.
Eviction sealing: A longtime priority of tenant advocates. Evictions stay on someone’s permanent record for years, and landlords are often skeptical to rent to someone with an eviction in their past. Under the bill, tenants would be able to petition the court to seal a record of no-fault evictions (an eviction filed without cause), and non-payment evictions. They’d be able to do the same for fault evictions once seven years have elapsed from the conclusion of their case and three years have passed since their last eviction.
$1.6 billion for public housing: The state says the $1.6 billion in proposed upgrades would be the largest investment in the commonwealth’s 43,000 public housing units since the complexes were built, mostly in the mid-20th Century. The $1.6 billion includes a $150 million carveout to cut down on carbon emissions within the 43,000 units, along with a $15 million carveout for accessibility retrofits such as grab bars.
Funds: One greatly expanded, one new. The bill doubles the existing Affordable Housing Trust Fund — a flexible fund that governments, nonprofits and developers can tap to build or preserve affordable housing — from $400 million to $800 million. It also creates a Momentum Fund to spur construction of projects that have been approved but are not yet fully funded. The fund aims to help developers and builders close financing gaps on housing projects that have not yet started construction due to high interest rates or materials costs. MassHousing will manage a $50 million seed fund, with a goal of attracting other investors, such as a pension fund or endowment.
Conversion support: A $275 million sustainable and green housing initiative would aim to support “innovative solutions” to the housing shortage such as converting offices or other commercial properties to residential units. State funding would help communities identify properties that could work for conversions — such as defunct mills or underused malls — and highlight options for future development. The state has been in contact with the city of Boston on its office-to-residential downtown conversion program, which launched this week.
Identifying surplus state land: Healey plans to sign an executive order to identify surplus public land for housing, expanding an inventory of government-controlled property. The bill sets aside $30 million to support demolition or environmental remediation efforts at publicly controlled sites with obsolete structures, such as former hospitals or prisons.
Tax credits: A new $10 million homeowner production tax credit would help meet financing gaps for projects targeting households with incomes of up to 120 percent of the area median income. A community investment tax credit would expand the statewide cap on donations to a community development corporation or a nonprofit community support organization from $12 million to $15 million.
And one thing that’s not in the $4.12 billion Massachusetts housing bond bill: rent control.
Andrew Brinker of the Globe staff contributed reporting.