Comparison of Housing Provisions in House & Senate Versions of Economic Development Bill

On July 28th, the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed its Economic Development Bill, H.4887An Act Enabling Partnerships for Growth. On July 29th, The State Massachusetts Senate passed its version of the Economic Development Bill, S.2842. Both versions had multiple housing provisions and affordable housing resources. Differences in the two versions are briefed in the table below with more details at bottom of the page.

A Conference Committee has been appointed to reconcile the differences between the two versions. On the House the Conferees are Reps. Michlewitz, Ferrante, and Wong. In the Senate, the Conferees are Sens. Rodrigues, Lesser, and O'Connor. CHAPA sent a letter to the Conference Committee with recommendations for how to make the final Economic Development Bill as strong as possible for affordable housing and community development. Click here for CHAPA's letter to the Conference Committee.

POLICY HOUSE VERSION SENATE VERSION
Housing Choice Included Included with Inclusionary Zoning Provision
Multifamily near MBTA Absent Includes multifamily by-right zone for MBTA communities
Affordable Housing Goal Absent Sets production goals including Commission to study housing production to achieve set goal
Abutter Appeals Absent Includes abutter appeals reform - cash bond of $50,000 for appeals without merit
Tenant Board Member Included Included
HDIP Included ($20 million expansion) Included ($5 million expansion) - with affordable requirement added to HDIP
Mortgage Relief Absent Includes Commission to study mortgage relief for property owners
Eviction Records Sealing Included - only seals records of minors in eviction cases Included -seals records for minors and creates process to seal records for no-fault eviction cases
Property Tax Exemption Absent Includes local option for tax exemption for owners renting to households at 100% AMI
LIHTC Included - LIHTC expansion by $20 mil for 5 years Absent
Affordable Housing near Public Transportation Included - $50 million bond authorization Included - $25 million bond authorization
Climate Resilient Affordable Housing Included - $10 million bond authorization Included - $10 million bond authorization
Neighborhood Stabilization Included - $40 million Included - $50 million
Commission to Study Barriers for Job Retention Absent Included

 


 

Housing Choice
Contained in both House and Senate bills, with differences
These provisions will help cities and towns approve certain smart growth zoning practices and affordable housing developments by lowering the required vote from a two-thirds to a simple majority.

These sections are contained in both the House and Senate bills, with small differences between the two versions. For example, the Senate bill allows inclusionary zoning bylaws – which require a certain percentage of any new multifamily housing built to be set aside as affordable – to be approved by a simple majority. The House would not allow inclusionary zoning bylaws to be approved by a simple majority.

 

Requiring Multifamily by Public Transportation
Contained in House bill
The Senate bill mandates that communities served by the MBTA have at least one zoning district allowing multifamily zoning by right within a half mile of an MBTA station or other public transportation, such as a ferry or bus terminal. The House bill does not include this mandate.

 

Affordable Housing Production Goals
Contained in Senate bill
The Senate bill sets a goal of producing 427,000 new homes by 2040 with at least 20% (or 84,500) of these homes affordable for low income residents. The Senate bill also creates a commission to study ways to meet these goals. The House bill does not contain this language.

 

Abutter Appeals Reform
Contained in the Senate bill
The Senate bill contains a provision to reform abutter appeals – the process by which neighbors can challenge a proposed housing development. Currently, neighbors can appeal a proposed development for almost any reason. Frivolous abutter appeals with no underlying merit have been used to delay or stop affordable housing developments. The bill allows courts the discretion to require a neighbor appealing a decision to approve a special permit, variance or site plan to post a bond of up to $50,000 if the court determines that the appeal is frivolous or lacks merit. This will allow genuine abutter appeals to be heard while discouraging appeals meant only to stop a housing development.

 

Appointment Process for Tenant Board Member
Contained in both the House and Senate bills
Both the House and Senate bills create a process to appoint public housing tenants to the boards of housing authorities in towns. In 2014, in order to ensure that tenants participated in the governance of their housing authority, Massachusetts passed a law that designated at least one seat for tenants on every housing authority board in towns. This mirrored a requirement already in place at housing authorities in cities. Unfortunately, the law did not create a process to fill this tenant seat in towns. This language creates an appointment process to allow tenants to fill the designated board seat.

 

Housing Development Incentive Program
Contained in the House and Senate bills, with differences
The House and Senate bills both expand the Housing Development Incentive Program (HDIP), a resource to help develop market rate housing in Gateway Cities. Currently, the annual allocation for HDIP is $10 million. The House bill expands HDIP by $20 million. The Senate bill expands HDIP by $5 million.

The Senate bill also makes certain program changes to HDIP. Currently, there is no requirement for development receiving HDIP to contain any affordable housing. The Senate bill would require that at least 10% of any rental housing supported by HDIP contain housing affordable to those at or below 60% of the Area Median Income (AMI). The Senate bill also requires that at least 10% of any homeownership developments supported by HDIP housing affordable to those at or below 80% AMI. Finally, the Senate bill requires the state to report annually on the use of HDIP.

 

Exploring Relief for Property Owners
Contained in the Senate Bill
The Senate bill directs the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development and Division of Banks to recommend mortgage and forbearance relief for residential and commercial property owners who rely on the rental income that has been impacted by COVID-19.

 

Eviction Court Record Sealing
Contained in the House and Senate Bills, with differences
The House and Senate bills both contain provisions having to do with sealing certain eviction court records. However, the House bill offers much more limited protections.

Senate bill creates a process for any person with a no-fault eviction, defined as an eviction that is not for the nonpayment of rent or material lease violation, to seal that court record. Next, the Senate bill prohibits any minor from being included as a named party in an eviction case. The Senate bill also prohibits no-fault evictions from having negative impacts on a person’s credit report. Finally, the Senate bill requires a party who obtains a judgment in an eviction action to enter a notice of satisfaction of judgment within 14 days of the judgement being satisfied.

The House bill only prohibits any minor from being included as a named party in an eviction case.

 

Property Tax Exemption for Owners Renting to Lower-Income Households
Contained in the Senate bill
The Senate bill creates a local option for municipalities to enact a property tax exemption for owners renting to tenants whose incomes are at or below the Area Median Income. housing  property tax exemption city or town that is affordable for, rented and occupied by, households at AMI.

 

Expansion of the Massachusetts Low Income Housing Tax Credit
Contained in the House bill
The House bill temporarily expands the Massachusetts Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) by $20 million for five years. This will build and preserve thousands of affordable homes and create jobs during our economic recovery from COVID-19.

 

Tenant Opportunity to Purchase
Contained in the House bill
The House authorizes a local option for municipalities to enact that would allow tenants the first opportunity to purchase their building if it is put up for sale.

 

Requiring Pre-Mediation & Notification of Rights for Evictions
Contained in the House bill
The House bill requires all eviction cases to go through pre-eviction mediation before an eviction hearing. The bill also requires landlords to notify tenants of their rights and resources when sending an eviction notice. Finally, the bill allows tenants who could not pay their rent because of COVID-19 to prevent their eviction by paying the landlord all rent and costs due before the eviction hearing.

 

Resources to Build Affordable Housing Around Public Transportation
Contained in the House and Senate bills, with differences
Both the House and Senate bills included a bond authorization to help create affordable housing for low- and moderate-income housing around public transportation. The House bill authorizes $50 million while the Senate bill authorizes $25 million.

 

Resources to Build Climate Resilient Affordable Housing
Contained in the House and Senate bills, with differences
Both the House and Senate bills included a $10 million bond authorization to support and create sustainable and climate resilient affordable housing with the goals of equipping homes to better respond to climate changes and reducing greenhouse gas emissions through use of efficient and sustainable design practices.

 

Neighborhood Stabilization
Contained in House and Senate bills, with differences
The House and Senate bills both include a bond authorization for a Neighborhood Stabilization Program to help return blighted or vacant units back to productive use, including in communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19. The House bill authorizes $40 million while the Senate bill authorizes $50 million.

 

Commission to study Job Retention in Workers with Low Income Jobs
Contained in the Senate bill
The Senate bill includes the creation of a commission to study barriers to job retention in workers with low income. The commission through public input will recommend ways to address barriers for people with low incomes to retain jobs and sustainable income.

 

Gateway City Housing Pilot Program
Contained in the House bill
The House bill includes a $5 million bond authorization for a pilot program to support the construction of market-rate housing Gateway City.