Administration announces $1.3B housing bond bill

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On April 24, the Baker-Polito administration travelled to Quincy to unveil its nearly $1.3 billion 2017 housing bond bill.
 
The administration plans to use the funds, along with $250 million in previously uncommitted funding, to boost spending on affordable housing over the  next five years.
 
The bond bill proposes $1.29 billion in new capital authorizations across 10 accounts. It would authorize $650 million for public housing modernization and redevelopment, $400 million for the production and preservation of traditional affordable housing, and $216 million for supportive housing and housing that serves “vulnerable” populations.
 
The bill includes statutory reforms intended to increase housing production and preservation in cities and towns. The law would change statutory sunset dates in key tax credit programs, reform the process of constructing accessible units for elders and individuals with disabilities, and make changes to laws governing local housing authorities. The bill would make changes that would make it easier for local housing authorities to work with private developers.
 
During the event in Quincy, Gov. Charlie Baker said MassHousing has dedicated an additional $100 million toward the construction of up to 1,000 new workforce housing units.
 
The bond bill would make a number of other statutory changes, including to the state’s low-income housing tax credit. The size of this tax credit is due to be cut in half, to $10 million, on Jan. 1, 2020. The housing bond bill would grant the state authority to offer $20 million per year in tax credits to affordable housing projects until 2025.
 
The bill would also makes changes to the Housing Development Incentive Program, extending the program to allow $10 million per year in tax credits to market-rate housing projects in Gateway Cities until 2024. (This tax credit is due to be cut in half, to $5 million, on Jan. 1, 2019.)
 
The bill would make minor changes to MassHousing services, statutes governing payments in lieu of taxes, and the way in which local housing authorities can borrow funds.
 
Municipalities have been eager to make use of the programs reauthorized in the bond bill. Haverhill, Quincy, Brockton, and Malden have all used the Housing Development Incentive Program for affordable housing construction. According to the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, a total of 433 units were supported by HDIP in 2016, and 1,100 prospective units were in various stages of review.
 
The housing bond bill is now before the Legislature.