House Increases Funding for Housing Accounts
The House concluded its FY 07 debate this evening. With the leadership of Speaker DiMasi, Ways & Means Chairman DeLeo, Housing Chairman Honan, and the many members who sponsored and spoke on behalf of affordable housing, the House approved more than $8 million in increases to DHCD line items. $4 million worth of increases are in earmarks contained in the administrative account. However, the House also increased a few specific accounts.
|Line Item||Program||Increase above House W&M|
|7004-2475||Soft Second Mortgage Program||$500,000|
|7004-3036||Housing Services||$221,925 (Earmarks for Just A Start and CMHA)|
|7004-9005||Public Housing Operating Subsidies||$2 million ($1 M of which is earmarked)|
|7004-9024||Mass. Rental Voucher Program||$250,000|
The House budget, as passed, is almost $13 million higher than what was proposed by the administration in January. Debate now moves to the Senate.
House Readopts Supplemental Budget and Stimulus Package
On April 27, as part of its FY 07 budget debate, the House adopted a consolidated amendment (amendment G), which includes many CHAPA priorities. The amendment text is available on the House website. Some of these key items include:
1. $2 million for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund specifically for the preservation of expiring use properties and to help people purchase affordable homeownership units. This section is based on the text of budget amendments #1233 by Representatives Peisch and Honan and #991 by Representative Sanchez.
2. $7.2 million for back subsidy payments owed to local housing authorities with language specifying that the money be used for such payments.
3. $20 million for a state supplement to the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance program.
4. Corrective language for the FY 06 Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program.
5. An extension of the brownfields tax credit and language allowing the credits to be transfered, sold, and assigned. The House also included $30 million for the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund.
6. An extension of the historic tax credit until December 31, 2010 and an allocation of up to $50,000,000 in tax credits per year.
All of these items still must be approved by the Senate before they could take effect. The Senate Committee on Way and Means is expected to release its suggested FY 07 budget within the next few weeks. It is not too early to contact your Senator.
Appeals Court Decision Upholds New England Fund as Eligible Subsidy Program
The Massachusetts Court of Appeals has determined that the New England Fund is a valid subsidy program for purposes of G.L. ch. 40B. The case is Town of Middleborough v. Housing Appeals Committee, and the decision was issued on April 11. Previously, the Middleborough Board of Appeals denied an application for a comprehensive permit. The developer appealed to the Housing Appeals Committee (HAC) and won. The HAC decision was upheld by the Superior Court, and the town appealed to the Appeals Court.
On appeal, among other things, the town claimed that the development was not eligible to receive a comprehensive permit because it lacked "housing subsidized by the federal or state government." The Appeals Court reviewed HAC's decision in Stuborn Ltd. Partnership v. Barnstable Board of Appeals and said, "we are not persuaded by much of the analysis articulated in the Stuborn decision." However, using its own analysis, the Court went on to find that "a Federal subsidy is present," that "Middleborough's remaining objections to issuance of the comprehensive permit have no merit," and affirmed the Superior Court's decision.
The Court went on to say that, "if governmental participation is limited to a definition of purpose and moral support, that is not a subsidy. [T]he government may create an agency, or it may authorize or direct an existing agency to carry out a particular program. But if the Federal or State government does not contribute something of value to the effort, there is nothing that qualifies as a government subsidy." In this case, the Court found that a subsidy exists because the Federal Home Loan Bank's funds and their debt instruments are tax exempt. The Court said, "We see no material fiscal difference between the government paying out funds or forgoing tax revenues it would otherwise have received, and we conclude that the tax exemption constitutes a government subsidy."
Click here to download the Middleborough decision.
Municipalities Continue to Adopt Community Preservation Act
The Community Preservation Coalition has been busy working with municipalities seeking to adopt the Community Preservation Act (CPA). This Spring, four municipalities have passed the Act: Carver, East Longmeadow, Lexington, and Tewksbury, bringing the total to 107 adoptees. Three communities have the Act on the ballot on May 1: Maynard, New Salem, and West Newbury. Four more will consider it before the end of May: Dunstable, Essex, Sterling, and Sutton.
Romney Appoints Andrew Gottlieb as Chief of OCD
On April 21, Governor Romney appointed Andrew Gottlieb to head the Office of Commonwealth Development (OCD), replacing Doug Foy, who resigned last month. Andrew had been the undersecretary of OCD, and prior to that he worked at the Department of Environmental Protection. Romney also announced that Eric Kriss, the former Secretary of Administration and Finance, will serve as chairman of the Commonwealth Development Coordinating Council.
The 2006 Gubernatorial Candidates' Forum on Affordable Housing, Homelessness, and Community Development will be held on June 22 at Faneuil Hall in Boston. All announced gubernatorial candidates have confirmed that they will participate in this non-partisan forum which will begin at 5:30 p.m. R.D. Sahl of New England Cable News will serve as moderator. He will be joined by six panelists: Kathy Bartolini, Town Planner, Framingham; Andy Crane, Incoming President, Massachusetts Homebuilders; David Harris, Executive Director, Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston; Tom Keane, Former Boston City Councilor; Nilaya Montalvo, Homes for Families; and Kathy Schatzberg, President, Cape Cod Community College. During the forum candidates will answer questions posed by the moderator, panelists, and audience.
May 2: Budget, Taxes, and Affordable Housing: The Outlook for the 2006 Legislative Session, 75 State Street, 2nd Floor, 9:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
May 22: Housing and the Economy: Trends, Impacts, and Potential Responses, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, 8:30 a.m. - 12:00 noon
May 25: 2nd Annual Housing Affordability Conference, MIT Center for Real Estate, 9:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.