Governor Signs Economic Development Bill with Critical Zoning Reforms & Affordable Housing Resources

On January 14, 2021, Governor Baker signed economic development legislation (H.5250) into law, which contained many of CHAPA's housing priorities, including:

  • Housing Choice, reducing the voting threshold to a simple majority for smart growth zoning and affordable housing;
  • Multifamily zoning requirements for communities with MBTA stations (subway, commuter rail, bus stations, and ferry terminals); zoning must ensure housing is suitable for families with children;
  • $20 million increase to the state Low Income Housing Tax Credit;
  • Public Housing Tenant Election Process, which is critical to filling tenant board seats and ensuring tenants always have a seat at the decision making table;
  • Abutter Appeals Reform, allowing judges to require the posting of bonds of up to $50,000 to discourage frivolous lawsuits brought only to slow or stop new housing development; and
  • Prevent the naming of minors in eviction cases

In addition, the Governor signed into law authorization of $50 million for affordable housing around transit, $10 million for sustainable and climate-resilient affordable multifamily housing, and $50 million for neighborhood stabilization to help return blighted or vacant housing back to productive use. The Governor also signed Boston's Linkage and Inclusionary Development home rule petition, allowing the City to make changes without going to the Legislature for approval.

More information on the housing-related sections are contained on this slide deck.

These changes include the first comprehensive zoning reforms in Massachusetts in the last 40 years!

Vetoes

The Governor vetoed the tenant opportunity to purchase act which would have created a local option for communities to provide residents the right of first refusal to purchase their building if it was being put up for sale. The Governor also vetoed affordability requirements and reporting on the Housing Development Incentive Program (HDIP) and he vetoed eviction record sealing for no fault evictions. Although not included in the final law, we look forward to going to work immediately on these important issues related to tenant protections and affordable housing.

Thank You!

Thank you to everyone who advocated over many years to help make these changes possible! 

There are so many legislators to thank who championed these housing reforms, including Housing Committee Chairs Representative Kevin Honan and Senator Brendan Crighton; long-time housing supporter Senator Joe Boncore; Representatives Andy Vargas and Christine Barber and Senator Harriette Chandler who have filed and led on advocating for these policies; Senator Eric Lesser and Representative Aaron Michlewitz, the chief negotiators on the Economic Development Bill; and Senate President Karen Spilka, Speaker Ron Mariano, and former Speaker Bob DeLeo for their leadership.

Thanks also to Governor Baker and Secretary Kennealy for leading on zoning reform and making housing a priority!

And, of course, we could not have successfully advocated for this bill without our many advocacy partners!