CHAPA Asks Legislature to Support Housing Priorities for the Commonwealth’s ARPA Fiscal Recovery Funds

On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). This once-in-a-generation investment allocated over $5.3 billion in fiscal recovery dollars to Massachusetts.

Housing is the single best investment Massachusetts can make to secure a healthy future for all. These flexible ARPA funds may be used for rent, mortgage, or utility assistance; counseling and legal aid; supportive housing; affordable housing development; and housing vouchers, residential counseling, or housing navigation assistance.

Right now, we have a real opportunity to secure the boldest housing investments to address our housing crisis. There is no telling when this type of opportunity will come again.

To ensure our most vulnerable residents are not left behind as Massachusetts continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, CHAPA kindly requests that the state legislature prioritize $1.683 billion of its total ARPA fiscal recovery funding for the following key housing priorities. 

Affordable Rental Housing Production and Preservation

CHAPA recommends $200 million for affordable housing rental production and preservation to ensure families are safe and healthy in their homes and meet the Commonwealth’s goal of creating 200,000 more homes.

These would fund affordable rental housing production and preservation for more homes that are climate resilient, energy efficient, and accessible to disproportionately impacted populations, including BIPOC communities, persons with disabilities, seniors, LGBTQ+ populations, and others.

Housing Rehabilitation

CHAPA recommends $100 million for affordable housing rehabilitation to improve housing quality, accessibility, and long-term resiliency.

These funds would support the rehabilitation and retrofitting of homes to meet the Commonwealth’s climate resiliency and energy-efficiency goals, provide more accessible homes for persons with disabilities, and to improve housing quality and the health of residents by removing hazards like lead paint and mold.

Affordable Homeownership

CHAPA recommends $500 million in total investments to expand and preserve affordable homeownership opportunities to close racial disparities in homeownership. We support the following investments in homeownership:

  • Building Homeownership Opportunities$200 million for the CommonWealth Builder Program and other similar grants and loans to build affordable homeownership opportunities including single-family homes and condominiums that are affordable to households with low- and moderate-incomes, particularly in communities of color.
  • Expanding First-Time Homebuyer Resources$300 million to expand resources for first time homebuyers, including down payment assistance and access to mortgages, focused on residents of disproportionately impacted communities.

Public Housing

CHAPA recommends $450 million for preserving the Commonwealth’s public housing that collectively needs $3 billion in deferred capital repairs and maintenance.

These funds would support capital repairs and improvements of our state Public Housing, much of which is over 50 years old, for long-term preservation of affordable homes for families with low-incomes, seniors, and persons with disabilities.

Acquisition of Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing

CHAPA recommends $50 million for property acquisition to create and preserve more permanent affordable homes.These funds will allow residents or communities to acquire un-subsidized, naturally occurring affordable housing being sold or foreclosed upon, providing new opportunities for long-term affordable homes and preventing displacement of residents from their homes and neighborhoods.

Supportive Housing

CHAPA recommends $300 million to create housing with supportive services. These comprehensive investments will build a foundation for economic recovery by expanding access to safe, healthy, and affordable homes with access to services for our most vulnerable residents including individuals and families experiencing chronic homelessness families and individuals, seniors, survivors of trafficking or domestic violence, and those with serious behavioral health or substance abuse challenges.

These evidence-based housing investments will help end homelessness through the creation of a flexible spending account for the operating costs for supportive services and the acquisition of hotels, motels, nursing homes, and other forms of temporary housing for the purpose of conversion to permanent, deeply affordable homes.

Housing Stability

CHAPA supports $83 million in total investments for housing stability efforts to prevent evictions and provide access to housing resources for the most vulnerable populations during the pandemic and over the long-term. We support the following investments in housing stability:

  • Right to Counsel: $78 million to create a statewide right to counsel program for residents with low incomes facing eviction to be administered by the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation. The program will prevent evictions for tenants and support owner-occupants of 1- to 3-family homes who are at risk of losing their home.
  • Tenant Outreach and Assistance: $5 million for community-based organizations working with residents in disproportionately impacted communities to support outreach efforts about available emergency resources and assist households with applying for housing assistance. This will help prevent evictions and improve the distribution of emergency rental assistance programs.

These investments can immediately begin to be distributed through existing, proven-effective programs to ensure a thriving future for all our people and communities.

As Legislature debates how to use our ARPA fiscal recovery funds, CHAPA urges the State to invest comprehensive resources towards affordable housing as soon as possible.

Please see CHAPA's ARPA Fiscal Recovery Funds Fact Sheet and testimony for more informmation.

For any questions about these priorities, please contact Ryan Dominguez at rdominguez@chapa.org or 617-684-4713.