For Immediate Release: Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Nov. 13, 2018, BOSTON, MA – During a meeting of the Local Government Advisory Commission at the State House, the Massachusetts Municipal Association (MMA) today renewed its call for the Legislature to enact the Housing Choices Act (H. 4290) before the session expires at the end of the year.

This top-priority bill would make it easier for communities to enact local zoning changes to encourage housing development. The measure would change the vote to approve housing-related zoning amendments and special permits to a simple majority from the current two-thirds supermajority. This would preserve decision-making authority for cities and towns, and make it easier to respond to community-based housing needs in a way that is appropriate for all neighborhoods and regions.

“H. 4290 has been favorably reported by the Committee on Housing, and has broad support from a diverse coalition of stakeholders,” said MMA Executive Director Geoff Beckwith. “Passing the bill now would kick-start a wave of community-based proposals to increase housing production,” he said. “Delaying action until the next legislative session would postpone progress.”

This year, Massachusetts is on track to permit almost 15,000 new housing units, which would mark the 6th consecutive year that cities and towns will create over 14,000 new housing units. More than half of this year’s new housing units will be for multi-family developments, which is higher than 10 years ago, when only around a quarter of permitted units were multi-family. While permitting has gone up, communities still want to do more. This bill would provide municipalities with the ability to increase higher-density housing production, while ensuring that the new developments match community and neighborhood needs.

The MMA has joined with the real estate community, homebuilders, and other groups forming an unprecedented coalition to support this thoughtful and balanced approach to housing production. The coalition includes the Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Massachusetts, NAIOP – the Commercial Real Estate Development Association of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Association of Realtors, the Greater Boston Real Estate Board, and the MMA.

Despite broad support, the bill stalled during the logjam at the end of the session. The MMA and the coalition are continuing to urge legislators to pass the bill in 2018, while the Legislature is meeting in informal session. The coalition is asking that H. 4290 be enacted without any divisive or weakening amendments, preserving the balance that would make it easier to pass housing proposals locally, while protecting local decision-making.

For Further Information, Please Contact: MMA Executive Director Geoff Beckwith or Candace Pierce at 617-426-7272 x 131