Governor Baker to bolster affordable housing

Governor Charlie Baker.
Governor Charlie Baker. Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

With rents in many corners of Massachusetts high and getting higher, Governor Charlie Baker said Monday that he plans to boost state spending to create more affordable housing.

Baker outlined $160.5 million in new funds over the next five years to build and preserve housing for low- and middle-income residents and homeless families, and to redevelop public housing complexes across the state. And last week, the governor announced $100 million in new funding for a different program that finances the development of affordable housing.

Much of the money will go to preserve existing affordable housing, apartments in privately owned buildings that were financed decades ago but could soon be rented at market rates. By offering to refinance those properties through the state, Baker said he hopes to preserve some 3,300 apartments that would otherwise go on the open market.


Other state funds will be used to build housing for homeless families and people with disabilities, finance mixed-income developments, and supplement local public housing authorities.

The state will also set aside $25.5 million to redevelop public housing in partnership with private developers, such as an approach being tried by the Boston Housing Authority at several of its older public housing complexes.

Baker made the announcement at a national housing conference being held in Boston this week, and noted that while parts of Massachusetts enjoy a strong economy, many others do not. Investing in good-quality housing can help lift communities that are falling behind.

“This is an enormously important piece of how you kick start places that are struggling or just running in place,” Baker said.

In all, Baker said, he would devote $1.1 billion to housing needs in his five-year capital plan, an 18 percent increase over current levels. Because the money is in the governor’s capital budget, which will be released later this month and is separate from the state’s general budget, Baker has more discretion in how it can be spent.


The conference was hosted by the Urban Land Institute, a real estate trade group. The ULI Boston chapter and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council released a study Monday that found the region will need as much as 200,000 units of new housing “at a variety of price points“ by 2030 if it hopes to keep up with projected job growth. One in three middle-income households here spends 30 percent or more of their income on housing, the study found.

Baker used his speech to tout other state initiatives to boost housing development as well, including marketing state-owned parcels to developers and partnering with builders to put more housing near MBTA stations in Quincy, Mattapan, and Scituate.

Tim Logan can be reached at timothy.logan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @bytimlogan.