For Immediate Release - November 16, 2007

GOVERNOR PATRICK FILES COMPREHENSIVE $1.1 BILLION HOUSING PRODUCTION AND PRESERVATION BOND BILL

Five-year plan encourages growth, preservation of housing across the Commonwealth

BOSTON-Friday, November 16, 2007--To foster long-term economic growth and make home ownership more accessible for all residents, Governor Deval Patrick today filed a $1.1 billion bond bill to support the creation and preservation of affordable housing and community development projects across the Commonwealth over the next five years.

Joined by Representative Kevin G. Honan and other officials, Governor Patrick announced the legislation in Allston.

The legislation is in line with the five-year Capital Plan released by the Patrick Administration in August.

"Access to affordable housing for all citizens is critical not only to our quality of life and well-being in Massachusetts but also to the strength of our communities and our economy," said Governor Patrick. "We must do more to encourage those who want to remain or locate in Massachusetts to do so, and this legislation is a significant step in that direction. I look forward to working with the Legislature to move this bill forward."

The legislation includes significant investments in programs that will make it easier for seniors and disabled residents to remain in their homes and in their communities. The funding will allow the state to address the huge backlog of deferred capital maintenance, with a priority on projects that protect the health and safety of residents and address structural deficiencies in our housing stock. The bill will also reduce operating costs over the long run with carefully crafted capital investment strategies - including aggressive efforts to reduce energy and water use - thereby also improving the environmental sustainability of the housing portfolio.

The funding will also allow the state to expand the stock of affordable housing by using housing authorities, and the land they control, as partners in the statewide effort to provide affordable housing to spur economic growth-by leveraging the value of the land we own and attracting private dollars to match public investments.

"I commend the Administration for its commitment to working families and I am enthusiastic about the tremendous housing opportunities these funds will provide for the residents of Massachusetts," said Representative Honan, co-chair of the Joint Committee on Housing. "The Legislature and the Administration are committed to opening the doors of affordable housing to our families, seniors, and persons with disabilities by providing an important investment in the future of the Commonwealth."

"The Governor's resolve to meet the great housing needs of the Commonwealth is clear," said Senator Susan C. Tucker, co-chair of the Joint Committee on Housing. "Both the Governor and the Legislature are committed to developing and preserving a diverse housing stock throughout Massachusetts that will meet the demand for housing at all income levels, revitalize neighborhoods, and prevent our residents from moving out of Massachusetts in search of lower cost housing."

The Governor's bond bill proposes funding for the following programs which are administered by the state Department of Housing and Community Development:

 

  • $200 million for the state's Affordable Housing Trust Fund. The trust fund was established for the creation and preservation of affordable housing projects throughout the Commonwealth for households whose incomes are not more than 110% of median income.
  • $175 million for the Housing Stabilization Fund, a program which provides support for the acquisition, preservation and rehabilitation of affordable housing, including foreclosed and distressed properties. Of those funds, $25 million will be targeted for transit oriented development projects and another $30 million reserved for projects under the Capital Improvement and Preservation Fund. This funding will assist an estimated 4,300 households.
  • $60 million for the Housing Innovations Fund, a program that supports the production of alternative forms of rental housing, including single person occupancy units, transitional and permanent housing for the homeless, battered women's shelters, supportive housing for seniors and veterans, and housing for substance abuse recovery. The funding for this program will assist an estimated 1,875 households.
  • $100 million to support the Home Modification Program, Facilities Consolidation Fund and the Olmstead/Community Based Housing Program, all targeted to meet various permanent housing needs for people with disabilities and clients of the Department of Mental Retardation.
  • $500 million is targeted to upgrade state owned public housing developments. The state owns more than 50,000 apartments and these funds will be used for the preservation and development of public housing for families, the elderly and those with special needs. Those capital funds will address the enormous backlog of deferred maintenance in order to repair, modernize, and keep state owned public housing in good condition.
  • $55 million will fund Community Development Action Grants, a municipal grant program that provides funding for publicly owned or managed projects that will have a significant impact on the economic condition of a city or town, including activities that will leverage significant private investment and generate or retain long term employment, as well as projects that will significantly improve the conditions of low and moderate income persons through the support of workforce housing production and/or the preservation of public housing.

Over the past 60 years the Commonwealth has built 50,000 units of public housing. Of those, approximately 32,000 units serve elderly and handicapped households, 15,000 serve families, and 3,000 serve individuals with special needs. State-assisted public housing is located not just in cities but also in most suburbs and many rural areas - altogether in 242 of Massachusetts' 351 cities and towns.

Preserving those units is significantly cheaper than replacing them, which would cost an estimated $10 billion.

This bill is the largest ever affordable housing bond bill filed by a Governor in the history of Massachusetts. The last major housing bond bill was passed in 2002 and totaled $508 million, including $350 million for public housing. Until then it was the largest housing bond bill enacted since 1976 when the legislature authorized $722 million for the construction of state public housing.

"The housing that will be created and preserved by this bond bill will provide access to a wide array of opportunities that our most vulnerable citizens as well as those who play a key role in our workforce can not otherwise afford due to the high cost of housing in Massachusetts," said DHCD Undersecretary Tina Brooks. "This investment of funds will pay dividends for the entire Commonwealth for many years to come."

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