The House yesterday passed a five-year, $6.5 billion housing bond bill that includes spending, policies and programmatic actions intended to jumpstart the production of housing and make housing more affordable across Massachusetts.

The House’s Affordable Homes Act would significantly increase the bottom line over the $4.1 billion version filed by the governor in January.

The House’s bill includes $2 billion for the rehabilitation, repair and modernization of more than 40,000 public housing units across the state, adding $500 million to the governor’s proposal.

Other investments in the House bill include:
• $1 billion to expand the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority’s service area to more suburbs in order to support development and improve drinking water quality
• $800 million for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund
• $425 million for the Housing Stabilization and Investment Fund
• $175 million for HousingWorks, a competitive grant program for municipalities and other public entities for infrastructure-related activities to support housing
• $150 million for grants and technical assistance to municipalities to support the conversion of commercial properties into residential housing
• $50 million for a grant program to help communities comply with the multi-family zoning requirements under the MBTA Communities Act (Section 3A)

The bill includes nearly $300 million in borrowing for a new local option that would give tenants the right to purchase their residence when their landlord wants to sell.

The bill provides for accessory dwelling units (ADUs) as-of-right in single-family zones. During debate, the House adopted an amendment to provide a limit of one ADU by-right per property, with local permitting requirements applying for additional ADUs.

The House did not include a local-option transfer fee on high-priced real estate sales, a policy proposed by the governor, and supported by the MMA, intended to steer funding to local housing trust funds.

In response to the housing affordability crisis, the governor’s and the House’s bills far exceed the state’s last housing bond bill, a $1.8 billion package signed by former Gov. Charlie Baker in 2018. Bond bills authorize capital spending, but actual state borrowing is determined each year by how much debt service the state can afford in its budget.

The Senate is expected to take up the bill in the coming weeks.

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