Housing Policy in the Economic Development Bill

H.5250, An Act Enabling Partnerships for Growth is the most recent version of the legislature’s biennial economic development package. This bill traditionally mixes capital spending authorizations with policy items. The most recent iteration includes $627 million in authorizations. There are several policy items in the bill, including many that relate to housing policy. The short summaries of the housing policy items below were prepared by Senator Eric Lesser‘s office. Senator Lesser was the Senate Chair of the Conference Committee that reconciled the House and Senate versions of the bill.

Housing Choice: Implements zoning reform to help cities and towns approve smart growth zoning and affordable housing by lowering the required vote threshold for a range of housing-related zoning changes and special permits at the local level from a two-thirds supermajority to a simple majority. Housing production is an integral part of economic development and recovery. Therefore, these provisions will cut the red tape that stands in the way of housing production and provide municipalities with the tools necessary to spur housing production in the Commonwealth.

MBTA Communities: Requires designated MBTA communities to be zoned for at least one district of reasonable size, as defined in the Act, in which multi-family housing is permitted as of right. Requires such housing to be suitable for families with children.

HDIP Programmatic changes: Requires at least 10% of units to be affordable (i) rental units for people whose income is not
more than 60% of the area median income, or (ii) owner-occupied units for people whose income is not more than 80% of the area median income; amends the HDIP program to increase transparency and equity.

40R Smart Growth: Permits DHCD to establish smart growth design standards; clarifies that mixed use development is allowed; place limitations on density bonus payments for housing in districts limited to age-restricted, disabled, or assisted living populations; enhance DHCD’s ability to claw back incentive payments if a community repeals 40R zoning.

Tenant’s Right to Purchase: Creates a local option establishing a tenant’s right of first refusal and outlines a process by which tenants occupying a residential property may purchase said property prior to its sale or foreclosure.

Eviction Record Sealing: Seals all no-fault eviction records.

Minors & Eviction Records: Prohibits minors from being named in a summary process summons; requires expungement of the names of any minors from any court record or electronic docket.

Local Housing Authority Board Member Elections: Amends provisions related to the election of local housing board members and modifies the definition of the tenant member on such boards by expanding seat eligibility to tenants with signed leases for public housing operated by the local housing authority, tenants in public housing operated on behalf of the housing authority, participants in rental housing assistance programs operated by a housing authority, or a resident of any such housing units over the age of 18.

Low-income Housing Tax Credit: Increases the state low-income housing tax credit program cap from $20,000,000 to $40,000,00

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