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Senate Passes $1.4 Billion Housing Bond Bill

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The Senate on Tuesday passed a bill authorizing $1.4 billion in capital spending over the next five years to fund the production and preservation of affordable housing in the Commonwealth, Senator Karen Spilka (D-Ashland) announced.

“This housing bond bill authorizes support for existing housing options and provides new affordable housing for our state’s most vulnerable,” Senator Spilka said. “Not only is this a bill that helps our low-income families, our disabled, and our elderly, it is also a tool that will encourage economic development in our state.”

The legislation provides for major investments in affordable housing in Massachusetts communities, including:

· $500 million for repairs and improvements to public housing;
· $305 million to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund to create and preserve affordable housing for households at or under 110 percent of the area median income;
· $135 million to the Housing Stabilization and Investment Trust Fund for acquisition, preservation and rehabilitation of affordable housing;
· $80 million to the Housing Innovations Trust Fund to support innovative and alternative forms of housing; and
· $100 million to the Capital Improvement and Preservation Trust Fund to purchase housing whose affordability restrictions have expired or are expiring.

This capital plan also includes:

· $50 million for a five-year grant program within the Department of Housing and Community Development to test cost-effective revitalization methods for family and elderly-disabled public housing;
· $55 million for a home modification program for blind and severely disabled homeowners;
· $47 million for a loan program to provide community-based or supportive housing for individuals with mental illness or intellectual disabilities; and
· $38 million for a loan program for community-based or supportive housing for individuals with disabilities who are institutionalized or at-risk of being institutionalized.

In addition, the legislation establishes the Early Education and Out of School Time Capital Fund to provide grants to non-profit childcare organizations for capital improvements to their facilities. Eligible providers must reserve at least 25 percent of their childcare slots for families receiving a public subsidy.

Further, the plan allows for development projects that are within a half-mile of a mass transit hub to be eligible for funding by expanding the definition of transit-oriented development in the MassWorks Infrastructure Program.

The bill also requires the Department of Housing and Community Development to file an annual capital plan with the Legislature.

The Senate bill and the House bill will now go to a conference committee to produce a compromise bill for final passage and consideration of the governor.