RULES & REGS: Mass. Governor Signs Investment Bill for Affordable Housing

By Erika Schnitzer, Associate EditorBoston–Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has signed into law the state’s largest housing bond authorization, which will help fund the Commonwealth’s many housing and community development projects.“This is an investment in the future of the Commonwealth, both for the residents and for long-term economic prosperity,” says Phil Hailer, the spokesman for the state Department of Housing and Community Development. Additionally, at 50,000 units, Massachusetts has one of the nation’s largest public housing portfolios. Over the next five years, the $1.275 billion bond bill will not only preserve affordable housing for people of all income levels, but also help disabled residents remain in their homes. The bill will also provide resources to invest in the affordable housing trust fund, community development action grants to provide funding for publicly-owned projects, transit-oriented housing, incentives for private developers to invest in affordable housing and housing for people with disabilities and funds to acquire and rehabilitate foreclosed properties.Of the entire bond, $500 million is targeted towards the repair and modernization of public housing, explains Hailer.“Massachusetts has some of the highest housing costs in the country and it may be difficult for a young family or young professional to find a place to live,” says Hailer. With this bill, the Commonwealth hopes to broaden housing for average working people, explains Hailer. “We don’t want to lose these people to other states. We think its imperative to have access to afford housing opportunities for these types of people as well.”In Massachusetts, a new housing bond bill is filed every five years. The last bill, signed in 2002, was for $508 million.