CHAPA Submits Testimony on Economic Development Bill to House Bonding Committee

On July 17, CHAPA submitted testimony on the Economic Development Bill (H.4854) to the House Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets. The Economic Development Bill contains affordable housing and community development resources. The bill is one of only a few more pieces of legislation expected to pass before the end of the legislative session on July 31. Click here for CHAPA's testimony on H.4584.

CHAPA is advocating for the House Bonding Committee to keep certain sections of the bill while also adding provisions that will help make sure that affordable housing is part of our continued economic recovery during the COVID-19 emergency.

In order to further address our affordable housing shortage and inequalities in our system, CHAPA asked the Committee to add the following provisions to the Economic Development Bil:

  • Re-insert Housing Choice provisions to help cities and towns approve smart growth zoning and affordable housing by lowering the required vote from a two-thirds to a simple majority. These sections were included in the bill as filed by Governor Baker (H.4529) but were removed by the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies.
  • Create a pilot program to provide a right to counsel for low-income residents facing eviction because of COVID-19.
  • Expand the Massachusetts Low Income Housing Tax Credit to spur the development and preservation of affordable housing and create jobs.
  • Improve the governance of housing authorities by creating a process for tenants to be appointed to housing authority boards in towns.

CHAPA also asked the Committee to keep the following sections of the Economic Development Bill:

  • Sections to help preserve the state’s public housing by allowing local housing authorities to leverage capital funds to secure additional resources for modernization projects and to allow housing authorities to retain proceeds from the sale of their property.
  • A section to build affordable housing for low- and moderate-income households around public transportation.
  • A section to create sustainable and climate resilient affordable housing for low- and moderate-income households.
The House Bonding Committee is expected to quickly report the bill out favorably to the House Committee on Ways and Means. The bill will then be prepared for a vote in the House. Once the House passes the legislation, the Senate will take up the bill where it is expected to go before the Senate Committee on Bonding then Senate Ways and Means before a vote on the Senate floor. Each of these steps towards passing the Economic Development Bill is an opportunity to advocate for changes to the legislation.
 
Once the bill has passed both chambers, the House and Senate will have to reconcile the differences between their respective bills before being sent to the Governor for his signature or veto.