For Immediate Release, Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Municipalities and Real Estate Coalition Urge Passage of Housing Choices Act This Year

BOSTON – During a hearing of the Joint Committee on Housing at the State House today, a diverse coalition of groups responsible for permitting and building housing renewed their call for the Legislature to enact the Housing Choices Act (H. 3507), which would make it easier for communities to enact local zoning changes that encourage housing development.

This bill would allow housing-related zoning amendments and special permits to be approved by a simple majority of the local legislative body, rather than the two-thirds supermajority currently required by state law. It would enable municipalities to boost higher-density housing production while ensuring that the new developments are consistent with community and neighborhood needs.

“The Housing Choices Act is the most significant zoning reform measure in five decades,” said MMA Executive Director Geoff Beckwith. “Passing this bill now would kick-start a wave of community-based proposals to increase housing production. This bill – modest in its terms but bold in its impact – will make an enormous difference in Massachusetts.”

Massachusetts Association of Realtors 2019 President Anne Meczywor, said, “People want to live in and work in Massachusetts, but we don’t have enough houses and condominiums to meet current and future demand. The Housing Choices Act is the type of common sense program that can help us start producing the housing we desperately need.”

“The production of workforce housing is critical for the continued growth of the Massachusetts economy. This bill is a balanced and effective tool for achieving that goal,” said Tamara Small, CEO of NAIOP – The Commercial Real Estate Development Association. “Too frequently, projects with broad community support are unable to achieve a supermajority vote and are never built.”

Hunter Marosits, president of the Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Massachusetts, said the Housing Choices Act would make it easier for homebuilders “to work cooperatively with local officials to produce the housing young families, recent graduates and retiring boomers are desperately seeking.”

The coalition is asking that H. 3507 be enacted without any divisive or weakening amendments that would impose state-set zoning standards, override local decision-making, or create new avenues for costly and unnecessary litigation.

“The magnitude of the housing crisis in the Commonwealth requires that housing production, affordability and retention be simultaneously but individually debated,” said Kathleen Franco, CEO of Trinity Management and government affairs chair for the Greater Boston Real Estate Board. “The Governor’s proposed legislation directly and simplistically addresses the critical need for more housing production. By removing the self-inflicted barriers from housing production, opportunities are created for each municipality to expand housing while protecting their autonomy and unique character. More housing equals more opportunities for residents to remain in the Commonwealth and creates meaningful opportunity to attract new growth for our workforce.”

Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito announced that they were refiling their Housing Choices Act at a State House event on Feb. 27 attended by scores of local officials and advocates from every corner of Massachusetts. The new bill mirrors a bill that was endorsed by the Joint Committee on Housing last year but fell shy of passage.

Last year, the Massachusetts Municipal Association joined an unprecedented coalition with the Greater Boston Real Estate Board, the Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Association of Realtors, and NAIOP – The Commercial Real Estate Development Association to advocate for passage of the Housing Choices Act.

For More Information, Please Contact:
Geoff Beckwith, Executive Director and CEO of the Massachusetts Municipal Association, at 617-426-7272 x101
Benjamin Fierro III, Counsel to the Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Massachusetts, at 617-429-3053
Tamara Small, CEO of NAIOP – The Commercial Real Estate Development Association, at 781-453-6900 x5
Eric Berman, Director of Communications at the Massachusetts Association of Realtors, at 781-839-5507
Greg Vasil, CEO of Greater Boston Real Estate Board, at 617-399-7862