Dear Senator,

We are writing to express our deep appreciation for the many investments included in the Housing Bond Bill proposal from the Senate Ways and Means Committee (S. 2834). The historical funding authorizations proposed will be an essential component for investments in housing solutions in all corners of Massachusetts.

We are deeply grateful to Senate President Spilka, Chair Rodrigues, Chair Edwards, Chair Kennedy, and so many others for their thoughtful work on this bill, and for moving this forward for debate tomorrow. S. 2834 includes many policies that aim to support local housing initiatives and empower communities as vital partners in this effort. With more than $5 billion in bonding authorizations included in this bill, we believe these authorizations can make a significantly positive impact on housing supply and affordability in the Commonwealth.

• $2 billion for desperately needed projects at our local housing authorities will support rehabilitation and modernization.

• Investments in the Affordable Housing Trust Fund and Housing Stabilization and Investment Fund will help municipalities support the preservation, rehabilitation and creation of new affordable homes.

• $375 million for the HousingWorks Infrastructure Program will help municipal infrastructure projects to help unlock housing development opportunities. Every municipality in the Commonwealth can identify housing rehab and development projects that are uniquely positioned, and this significant funding can provide much-needed assistance to move these projects into action.

• $275 million is included for innovative, sustainable and green housing initiatives

• $50 million is included for a new seasonal community housing innovation program; and much more!

Additionally, there are a number of policy changes proposed in this bill, and since many impact municipalities, you can understand the unique perspective cities and towns would have on these matters.

• ADUs by-right: The MMA recognizes that accessory dwelling units (ADUs) can be an important tool for communities to support affordable housing solutions. However, we remain very concerned about the proposed unilateral preemption of local zoning in this bill. We strongly encourage efforts to further support municipalities in ADU development locally, which many communities already allow through existing ADU policies or through special permits. For example, this proposal would prevent any requirement for owner occupancy (in either unit), which is a standard requirement in many as-of-right ADU bylaws across Massachusetts. This would exacerbate the already significant challenges presented by investor-owned properties, but now as absent landlords. For cities and towns that have created and passed their own ADU bylaws, overriding these existing bylaws would present an unnecessary and frustrating challenge for communities, especially if they have already acted on this issue.

• Inclusionary zoning: The MMA recognizes that inclusionary zoning can be an important tool to boost affordable housing production. We strongly appreciate the provision included in this proposal to lower the quantum of vote to a simple majority for certain inclusionary zoning ordinances and bylaws. Inclusionary zoning has been an effective tool in promoting and supporting more affordable housing options in Massachusetts.

• Seasonal communities: The MMA recognizes that every city and town is different and that a number of communities have populations that rise and fall depending on the time of year. We strongly support the creation of the Seasonal Communities Coordinating Council and encourage all efforts to get a full and dynamic perspective of these issues from municipalities across the Commonwealth.

In this letter, we welcome the opportunity to offer insights on proposed amendments during your deliberations this week, and we urge you to support the following amendments:

Amendment #219 (Mitigating Investor-Owned Purchases)
Please support and co-sponsor this amendment regarding owner occupancy requirements, which would add back a reasonable regulation for municipalities to require either of the units (primary or accessory dwelling) to be occupied by the owner of the property. This regulation has been included in the existing Chapter 40A definition of ADUs, and changes are unnecessary. Not including this restriction would further incentivize commercial entities purchasing local housing stock for additional profit.

Amendment #307 (Inclusionary Zoning)
Please support and co-sponsor this provision, which amends Section 5 of Chapter 40A to allow for the adoption of inclusionary zoning ordinances or bylaws by a simple majority rather than a two-thirds vote. This proposal would allow this reduction in quantum of vote for all instances, and would be in line with changes in the Housing Choice legislation of 2020.

Amendment #242 (Local Option Transfer Fee)
Please support and co-sponsor this amendment which would allow municipalities to adopt a local real estate transfer fee. This would allow for the establishment of a local transfer fee of between .5% and 2% with additional flexibility on the threshold of purchase price for taxation. This gives all communities the opportunity to use a transfer fee in a way that makes sense for their unique circumstances.

Amendment #301 (Local Option Transfer Fee Pilot)
Please support and co-sponsor this amendment which would create a local real estate transfer fee pilot program in up to 22 municipalities. The Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities would then collect data and evaluate housing production, affordability, sales and municipal revenues in this pilot program and make recommendations. Transfer fees can be an important tool to fund affordable housing, and we would support the introduction of a pilot program to further evaluate its effectiveness.

Amendment #65 (Municipalities Right of First Refusal)
Please support and co-sponsor this amendment which would amend the timeline surrounding the municipal option to exercise or assign the right of first refusal on agricultural land that a property owner plans to sell or use for non-agricultural purposes. This would provide important flexibility for municipalities that wish to convert unused land into residential stock by allowing communities more time to work out logistical hurdles before their right of first refusal time limit expires.

Amendment #118 (Second Homes)
Please support and co-sponsor this amendment which would provide a local option to create a bifurcated or progressive property tax rate on real property that is classified as “class one” residential property and based on whether the properties are occupied on a year-round basis or subject to periods of vacancy. This would create an additional tool for municipalities to adopt, should they choose to do so, lessening the residential tax burden on year-round residents.

Amendments #32 and #189 (Reducing Minimum Units)
Please support and co-sponsor these amendments which would reduce the minimum number of units a project must have in order to be eligible for important tax breaks and incentives. Stimulating a broad range of housing development options allows municipalities and developers to work together to find a variety of housing solutions.

Amendment #168 (40R Smart Growth Payments)
Please support and co-sponsor this amendment which would significantly increase the payments made to cities and towns with approved Smart Growth zoning districts. This will help further incentivize this successful program supporting the development of Chapter 40R districts all across the state.

Further, we respectfully ask you to oppose the following amendments:

Amendment #46 (Multifamily Zoning)
Please oppose this amendment which would preempt local authority on zoning and require any city or town with a population over 2,000 to create as-of-right multi-family zoning districts and set gross density requirements. Cities and towns must be given flexibility and autonomy to create their own zoning and density without state preemption.

Amendments #39, #41, #70, #109 #156 (Further State Preemption on ADUs)
Please oppose these amendments which would preempt local authority on various aspects of zoning regulations regarding ADUs. We continue to oppose efforts to strip cities and towns of this essential local responsibility. Further, many of these amendments would further conflict with local bylaws and ordinances on the subject.

Thank you for your attention to the municipal perspective on these issues and for your ongoing support of cities and towns. With your partnership, municipalities are eager to find locally driven solutions to support housing development and affordability across the Commonwealth.

Every community in the Commonwealth feels the impacts of this overwhelming need for affordable housing. But we also know that true progress in making housing more affordable can only be achieved when the state and municipalities are working together. The MMA is committed to working with you all on this important legislation while providing needed flexibility and support to municipalities in meeting local housing goals.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to have your office contact me, MMA Senior Executive and Legislative Director Dave Koffman at, or Legislative Analyst Ali DiMatteo at at any time.


Adam Chapdelaine
MMA Executive Director and CEO