private and public sectors to make the economics of
This administration remains committed to
investing in the Commonwealth’s affordable housing
ecosystem. However, subsidies alone will never
produce the 135,000 new units by 2025 that Governor
Baker has called for.
We must modernize a century-old law, which
requires a 67 percent supermajority to change local
zoning pertaining to housing. Across Massachusetts,
we have seen projects win resounding majorities in
city councils and town meetings, only to fail under
the current thresholds.
To address this issue, Governor Baker filed An Act
Relative to Housing Choices in December 2017 and
refiled a modified version of the bill in February 2019.
Housing Choice would lower this zoning threshold
to a simple majority, making it easier for communities
across the Commonwealth to adopt housing best
practices to help drive the expansion of the housing
stock at all income levels.
As the tour ended and summer turned to the fall
legislative session, my predecessors from the Romney,
Patrick, and Baker administrations joined me, Governor
Baker, and Lieutenant Governor Polito at the State
House to emphasize the need and bipartisan support
for the bill. In their remarks and an op-ed in the Boston
Business Journal, former Secretaries of Economic
Development Ranch Kimball, Dan O’Connell, Greg
Bialecki, and Jay Ash all stressed the importance of
acting as soon as possible before the shortage slows
Massachusetts’ remarkable growth and forces families
and businesses to move elsewhere.
Each day that passes is another day lost to get shovels
in the ground and produce the housing necessary for
a growing population facing short supply. Without
this necessary legislative reform, too many families – a
growing number of whom pay 30 percent or more of
their income on housing -- will continue to live under
the current status quo, without relief in sight.
We will continue to fund and advocate for affordable
housing in Massachusetts, but we need to act now.
I urge the Legislature to pass our Housing Choice
legislation so that our already thriving Commonwealth
can continue to grow.
Mike Kennealy is the Secretary for Housing and Economic
Development. He is responsible for advancing the Baker-Polito
Administrations agenda to create economic opportunity for
residents, collaborative leadership in communities, an environment
that supports job creation and business growth and new affordable
housing through legislation and targeted investments.