Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy and Dr. Julie Chen, Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation, UMass Lowell, join Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll to celebrate the filing of the Baker-Polito administration’s new $240 million economic development bill at the Salem Five Community Room on March 4, 2020. [Photo: Joshua Qualls/Governor’s Press Office]

At an event in Salem today, Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy announced the filing of a $240 million, five-year economic development bond bill.

The bill (HB 4529) would create the tools needed to implement the administration’s Partnerships for Growth strategic plan, which was released last year after extensive stakeholder input.

The bill includes:
• $50 million for the production of high-density, mixed-income affordable housing near transit nodes
• $10 million for climate-resilient construction in affordable, multifamily housing developments
• $40 million to support redevelopment of abandoned, blighted and underused properties
• $25 million for a neighborhood stabilization program
• $15 million to reauthorize the site readiness program
• $10 million for a fund dedicated to supporting community development and infrastructure projects in rural communities and small towns
• $5 million for planning initiatives undertaken by individual municipalities, jointly by cities and towns, or by regions working together to address shared goals related to community development, housing production or other issues of local and regional concern

Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito announced a $240M economic bond bill in Salem. With them (l-r) are Dr. Julie Chen, Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation, UMass Lowell, Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy, Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll and Beverly Mayor Michael Cahill. [Photo: Dominick Pangallo.]

Rolled into the bill is the governor’s Act to Promote Housing Choices, as redrafted by the Joint Committee on Housing. The proposal, intended to promote housing production, would change state law to reduce the vote threshold needed to adopt certain zoning changes, from two-thirds to a simple majority. The legislation has been strongly supported by the MMA and a broad coalition of stakeholders.

The economic development package would increase the Housing Development Incentive Program cap from $10 million to $30 million and expand the number of eligible cities and towns so that more multi-unit, market-rate housing development projects can move forward in Gateway Cities and similarly situated communities.

“Building on the success of our two previous economic development bills, An Act Enabling Partnerships for Growth invests in further housing development and supports small businesses and innovative companies throughout the Commonwealth,” Gov. Baker said at the Salem event. “This important legislation, partnered with our Housing Choice Initiative, will continue our work to promote growth and success in every region of the state.”

Written by