At an event in Melrose on Oct. 11, the Baker-Polito administration announced that it will be awarding nearly $5 million in grants to 31 communities through the Housing Choice Initiative.

The objective of the initiative, introduced by Gov. Charlie Baker in last December and coordinated by the Department of Housing and Community Development, is to support the creation of 135,000 new housing units in Massachusetts by 2025.

The program rewards designated municipalities that have produced certain rates or amounts of new housing units in the last five years and that have adopted best practices related to housing production. It provides a one-stop shop for incentives and technical assistance that rewards regulatory innovation.

Communities that achieve the Housing Choice designation have exclusive access to apply for the Housing Choice Capital Grant Program and to receive bonus points or other considerations for certain state grant programs, such as MassWorks. Sixty-nine communities have achieved the designation in the program’s first year.

The initiative offers two grant programs: the Housing Choice Capital Grant Program and the Small Town Housing Choice Capital Grant Program, for towns with populations under 7,000. Small towns can apply for both programs.

The administration is awarding $4 million to 19 communities through the Housing Choice Capital Grant Program, and nearly $1 million to 12 communities through the Housing Choice Small Town Grant Program.

The 2018 Housing Choice Capital Grant Program awardees are Acton, Amherst, Barnstable, Beverly, Chelmsford, Easthampton, Easton, Framingham, Lawrence, Littleton, Melrose, Northampton, Provincetown, Quincy, Reading, Salisbury, Somerville, Taunton and Williamstown.

The Small Town Grant Program awardees are Boylston, Clarksburg, Eastham, Egremont, Great Barrington, Hadley, Leverett, Mattapoisett, Mendon, Merrimac, Sunderland and Tisbury.

As part of the Housing Choice Initiative, the administration released “An Act to Promote Housing Choices,” which would reduce the two-thirds vote threshold to a simple majority for approval of particular zoning bylaws and ordinances focused on housing production.

Although the bill failed to pass in formal session, it has broad support as a targeted approach to help boost housing stock across the Commonwealth. The MMA and other stakeholders are hopeful that legislators will continue to work on passing a bill during the informal session, which runs through the end of the year.

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