CHAPA Statement on the Draft DHCD Guidelines for MBTA Communities

On December 15, 2021, the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) released draft guidelines on the new state law requiring MBTA communities to establish zoning for multifamily housing. 

We are pleased that the guidelines meet this historic moment by creating a path forward for producing the 200,000 homes the Commonwealth needs. The guidelines prioritize the creation of new homes close to public transportation and ensure communities make decisions about where they will guide development. The guidelines also emphasize equity and fair housing by providing more choice through a diversity of housing types while requiring new housing to be suitable for families with children. These principles are critical to meet growing demand and plan for the homes we need at all income levels so that every community can prosper.

With these guidelines and technical assistance offered through the Massachusetts Housing Partnership, communities have important new tools to design their future and contribute to the Commonwealth’s growth. We are excited to partner with local communities in this collective work. Combined with the historic ARPA funds; increases in Community Preservation Act state funding; and existing state programs like Chapter 40R that provide financial support for allowing affordable housing near transit and town centers; we now have new guidelines, tools, and resources that communities can use to create new affordable homes and to offer additional options for people across income levels.

We know what’s at stake if we don’t meet this moment. Housing will continue to get more expensive. More people will be priced out of the neighborhoods they love. Embracing multifamily housing protects our environment, improves our overall health, and strengthens our local economies. It gives current and future residents more choice in where they want to live while remaining connected to their networks, their jobs, and essential resources. The new state law, together with these guidelines, provides the opportunity for our communities to grow stronger and healthier.

And, this is just the beginning. We call on every municipality to seize this moment to design an affordable, inclusive, and sustainable future by putting this new zoning in place and dedicating local funds towards affordable homes. Local ARPA funds, Community Preservation Act funds, inclusionary zoning, and 40R Smart Growth Districts are all tools we can use to not only build more homes for families near transit but to ensure they’re affordable, too. CHAPA will continue to advocate for increased resources at the state and federal levels to ensure affordability in all communities. 

To learn more about the draft guidelines, read CHAPA’s summary and attend DHCD’s virtual webinar on January 12, 2022. Submit comments in support by March 31, 2022, to help ensure that the final guidelines remain as strong as possible for creating new opportunities for everyone to have an affordable home in the community they choose.

The choices we make today will determine our state’s future. Let’s seize this moment to make Massachusetts more inclusive and equitable through housing.