For Immediate Release - May 29, 2008


Investment plan will foster affordable housing development, spark economic growth

BOSTON- Thursday, May 29, 2008- Highlighting the positive impact access to affordable housing for all citizens has on the quality of life and well-being in communities across Massachusetts and on the strength of the economy, Governor Deval Patrick today signed into law a $1.275 billion bond authorization - the state's largest investment ever in housing and community development projects throughout the Commonwealth.

Governor Patrick joined with state and local officials for the signing at an affordable housing complex in Allston named in memory of the late Boston City Councilor, Brian J. Honan.

"This bond bill was an important and collaborative effort with the state Legislature to devise a comprehensive plan to provide affordable housing in Massachusetts," said Governor Patrick. "There are steps we need to take to keep our state a great place to live and work."

"This housing bond bill will have a direct local benefit to cities and towns by helping create and expand affordable housing options for people throughout our Commonwealth," said House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi. "It is just another important accomplishment by the Legislature and Governor Patrick at a critical time in our state's economy."

"This investment comes at a critical time for the Commonwealth. As the housing market struggles and foreclosures continue to rise, this infusion of capital will keep housing available for the young, the elderly and people at all income levels," said Senate President Therese Murray. "It makes it affordable so that people who live here and grew up here can stay, while those attending schools in Massachusetts will have extra incentive to put down roots and join the workforce. That's a plus for the vitality of our neighborhoods and our economy.

The housing bond bill will invest $1.275 billion over the next five years to help disabled residents to remain in their homes and in their communities, while generating new jobs and preserving affordable rental and homeownership opportunities for residents across Massachusetts.

The legislation will also address the backlog of deferred capital maintenance in our public housing stock, with a priority on projects that protect the health and safety of residents and address structural deficiencies, expand private housing opportunities for seniors and working families, and promote community and economic development.

"Affordable housing for our workforce, families and the elderly remains a top priority for the Commonwealth. This new funding means the creation and preservation of affordable and attainable housing throughout the state," said Rep. Honan, who serves with Senator Susan C. Tucker as co-chair of the Joint Committee on Housing. "I am honored that Governor Patrick is signing this bill at the Brian Honan Apartments in my district of Allston/Brighton."

"Both Governor Patrick 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," said Sen. Tucker.

The legislation will authorize for the following programs administered by the state Department of Housing and Community Development:

  • $120 million will support the Home Modification Program, the Facilities Consolidation Fund and the Community Based Housing Program, which are all targeted to meet various housing needs for people with disabilities and clients of the Department of Mental Retardation and Department of Mental Health.
  • $220 million will support the state's Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which 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.
  • $125 million will support the Housing Stabilization Fund, which provides support for the acquisition, preservation and rehabilitation of affordable housing, including foreclosed and distressed properties.
  • $500 million will go toward upgrading state-supported public housing developments. The state supports more than 50,000 apartments and the funds will be used for the preservation and development of public housing for families, senior citizens and those with special needs. Funding will address a large backlog of deferred maintenance in order to repair and modernize housing. An additional $50 million will fund a public housing pilot program for innovative housing authority initiatives that demonstrate cost-effective methods for revitalizing state-assisted public housing. It also encourages the production of new affordable housing on municipally owned land or underutilized housing authority property.
  • $75 million will support 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 shelters, supportive housing for seniors and veterans, and housing for substance abuse recovery.
  • $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.
  • $100 million will support the Capital Improvement and Preservation Fund (CIPF) to assist in the preservation and improvement of existing privately owned state or federally assisted affordable rental developments. The program is targeted to housing at risk of losing affordability restrictions due to the potential for the prepayment of its mortgage and housing in which a project-based rental assistance contract has expired or is expiring. CIPF provides funding preference to nonprofits and housing authorities seeking to purchase eligible properties. 50 percent of the units in CIPF preserved properties must be affordable to persons with incomes of 80 percent or less of area median income and not less than 10 percent of the units must be available to persons with incomes of 50 percent or less of median income.
  • $30 million in transit oriented development funds will capitalize the Commercial Area Transit Node Housing Program which is intended to produce housing units, rental or homeownership, in commercial areas served by public transit. 50 percent of the housing produced under this program must be available to residents with incomes of no more than 80 percent of the area median income.
  • $10 million annually will support the Massachusetts low income housing tax credit program. Created in 1999, state tax credits get awarded to investors in multi-family rental projects that meet strict affordability requirements. It encourages private investment in affordable housing and allows developers to finance part of the cost of the development with equity invested by local corporations and individuals, thereby reducing the amount of debt financing and helping to keep rents low.

The legislation marks the largest housing bond authorization in state history. The last housing bond bill was passed in 2002 for $508 million, including $350 million for public housing modernization and repairs.

"Everyone should have access to a safe, decent and affordable place to call home" said DHCD Undersecretary Tina Brooks. "The funds from this bond bill will increase access to housing opportunities and will help keep our communities strong and economically competitive."