During a Feb. 27 event at the State House, Gov. Charlie Baker (center) discusses his Housing Choices Act, which has wide support, including from the MMA.

At a State House event attended by scores of local officials and advocates on Feb. 27, Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito announced that they were refiling their Housing Choices Act, which fell shy of passage last year.

The new bill (HB 3507) mirrors the bill that was endorsed by the Joint Committee on Housing last year, including changes that were made by the Legislature.

The thrust of the housing bill is that it would reduce the two-thirds voting threshold to a simple majority for local zoning changes cities and towns seek to increase housing production or density.

At the State House event, Gov. Baker said housing costs and availability threaten the Commonwealth’s “unlimited potential.”
Salem Mayor Kimberley Driscoll said housing “is perhaps the leading challenge facing our community today.”

“Housing is a complicated issue, but the tools that are available to use to address it are straightforward. We need a balanced approach that doesn’t put an artificial stranglehold on housing production, while sensibly recognizing the impacts of housing.”

Cohasset Town Manager Chris Senior lauded the administration’s Housing Choice Initiative, which includes grants and technical assistance as well as the proposed legislation in an effort to add 135,000 new housing units by 2025.

“Creating more housing choices requires local communities across the Commonwealth to be creative and adaptable,” Senior said. “It also requires an approach that’s appropriate for each individual community.”

He said the Housing Choice Initiative “gives every community new tools … that allow each to craft plans that make sense locally while at the same time helping to address the overall housing challenge.”

MMA Executive Director Geoff Beckwith called the Housing Choices Act “the most significant zoning reform measure in five decades.”

He added that the legislation “is modest in its terms, but bold in its impact. This bill will make a difference, while maintaining hometown democracy.”

The MMA has joined with the real estate community, homebuilders and other interests to form an unprecedented coalition to support this balanced approach to housing production. The MMA will continue working with other advocates to get the Housing Choices Act passed this session.

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