Affording Success : Ma king Ma ssachusetts a
Place for All Residents to Live, Work, and Thrive
By Secretary Jay Ash and Undersecretary Janelle Chan
We are at a defining moment for the Commonwealth –
Massachusetts has emerged nationally and globally for our
talent and innovation, which, in turn, continues to propel
a strong economy with the lowest unemployment rate
experienced in years.
With a booming economy and a thriving job market,
creating more housing opportunities for the Commonwealth’s
workforce is critical to the continued, sustained economic
success of our Commonwealth. Developing more quality
housing that is affordable for families, individuals, and seniors
is an important investment in our economic health and future.
The cost of housing has surged past the healthy increase
in incomes in the past five years. The median home sale price
in January 2013 was $288,000. By 2017, it increased 24%
to $358,000. Relative to this time, average annual wages in
Massachusetts increased only 13% from $61,790 in 2013 to
$69,942 in 2017. For a spectrum of Massachusetts residents,
housing has become more challenging to afford.
Affordable housing is not just about income-restricted
units. Affordable housing is not just a low-income issue.
Rather, the quantity of quality housing that is affordable to
a mix of residents is an economic development issue for
all of us in Massachusetts. The dearth of affordable housing
makes it difficult for young families to put down roots, seniors
to stay in their communities and employers to attract new
talent. It also scares off new graduates from staying in the
Commonwealth, and hurts the state’s most vulnerable
communities. The damaging effects cut across all income
levels, and touch every community.
Since taking office, housing has been a priority for
Governor Baker and Lt. Governor Polito and we are proud
to lead their ground team as Secretary of Housing and
Economic Development and Undersecretary of Housing and
In May 2016, the Administration announced an extensive
five-year capital plan outlining our investments in housing
production, representing an 18% increase on previous funding
and bringing our investments to more than $1 billion over
five years. The Fiscal Year 2019-2021 plan maintains support
for existing programs for high-needs populations, increases
support for local public housing communities, and finances
new initiatives to preserve at-risk affordable housing and boost
mixed-income housing production across Massachusetts.
Here are the highlights:
· $50 million in new funding to preserve privately-owned
affordable housing units with expiring affordability restrictions,
to be matched with $50 million in new preservation funds
· $25 million in new funding for the development of
supportive housing for homeless families and individuals
· $34 million in new funding to advance mixed-income
· $25.5 million in new funding to accelerate the preservation
and redevelopment of local public housing communities
through public-private partnerships.
· $14 million in new funding to local affordable housing
funds, and advance small-scale affordable housing
development in communities.
· $12 million in additional capacity for capital projects at
state-supported public housing developments.
We’re still on track and have a number of major milestones
to celebrate. Through our first three capital budgets, we’ve
supported the creation or preservation of approximately 7,500
affordable housing units, provided $17.8 million to four public
housing developments for comprehensive modernization
of housing for seniors and individuals with disabilities,
and allowed the Department of Housing and Community
Development (DHCH) to award $150 million for deferred
maintenance projects to more than 45,000 units of extremely
low-income state public housing across 234 communities.
And this spring, through Governor Baker’s partnership with
the Legislature, we passed the largest Housing Bond Bill in
Massachusetts history, authorizing more than $1.8 billion for
housing production and preservation. This legislation ensures
we can continue making vital investments, which support
downtown residential development, affordable housing
preservation, mixed-income housing, and a more robust focus
on middle-income housing.
And beyond direct funding, this legislation extended
effective tax credits and made straightforward changes to
enhance our ability to construct the housing we need:
• State Low-Income Housing Tax Credit: Extends the
state’s ability to commit $20 million per year in tax credits
to affordable housing projects until 2025 and authorizes
an additional $5 million per year in tax credits specifically to
support preservation of existing affordable housing. Without
the legislation, the tax credit would have been reduced to $10
million beginning in 2020.
• Housing Development Incentive Program: Extends the
state’s ability to commit $10 million per year in tax credits to
market-rate housing projects in Gateway Cities until 2024.