Governor Deval L. Patrick
Housing Bill Signing Remarks
May 29, 2008
On Thursday, May 29, 2008, Governor Patrick signed into law a $1.275 billion bond authorization - the state's largest investment ever in housing and community development projects throughout the Commonwealth. The governor 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."
Last November a lot of us were gathered together when I told you that we would file a Housing Bond Bill to reverse or start to reverse a decade and a half of neglect and underfunding of our housing needs in Massachusetts. And I am very, very proud to be here today to sign that Bond Bill: a one billion, 275 million dollar investment representing the largest investment in affordable and public housing in the Commonwealth in nearly 20 years.
I thank Chairman Honan, Chairman Tucker, as I mentioned Senator Tolman who is standing in her stead today. Most notably, Speaker DiMasi and Senate President Murray and all of the members of the legislature for partnering with us to make this bond bill a reality.
The bond bill provides resources over the next five years to invest in a whole host of needs: in the preservation and improvement of affordable rental housing, in the affordable housing trust fund - a proven strategy for making home ownership within reach of working families, in community development action grants to provide funding for publicly-owned projects, in transit-oriented housing, and incentives for private developers to invest in affordable housing, in housing for people with disabilities, in single-room occupancy and other transitional housing opportunities, and in funds to acquire and rehabilitate foreclosed and distressed properties. This is an ambitious agenda to meet a critical need.
Over the next 5 years this affordable housing bond bill will allow us to attract the working families we need for a robust economy and to give people a chance to live the American story. It will help us to create new construction jobs as well, I heard what you said Mr. Chairman, while we rebuild and strengthen communities all across the Commonwealth. And it will create stable opportunities for those in need.
I want to thank everyone here and as I say everyone represented by those here. Not just up on the stage and behind the podium, but all of you for staying engaged, for helping us shape a better and stronger and more effective response; and by staying connected so that we implement this in ways that make a real difference in real people's lives.
Thank you all so much. Thank you for having me.
This is a real privilege and honor for the Honan family to have the Governor and the Mayor here - folks who have done so much for affordable housing and it just means a lot to us that you're here.
As you know, earlier we tried to, the Governor did his announcement in the neighborhood and it was raining that day so we moved it to the West End house which is where Brian and I grew up playing basketball, but it's nice that all of the folks in the housing community here in Massachusetts are able to see the beautiful housing that's here. And as you heard, it was the Legal Seafood plant before and often times my brother as the City Councilor would get complaints about the odor. And one time he got quoted in the newspaper saying negative things about this so I had to call Roger Berkowitz up because I and my friends would come here and buy fish. So we had a nice relationship and I didn't want my brother to spoil that so I had to come down and meet with Mr. Berkowitz and then later on Mr. Berkowitz worked with Brian and the CDC to create a real community here as you can see. It's an absolutely wonderful place.
So we're just thrilled that you're all here. And we're also joined by Secretary Dan O'Connell and Tina Brooks who were just invaluable in advancing this bond bill who testified on behalf of it. And all of my colleagues who were mentioned, I want to thank all of them for being here. They're real champions in the area of affordable housing.
We also have with us Charlotte Richie, who when she was a legislator, served in my capacity as Chair of the Housing Committee; and we have Tom Gleeson from Mass Housing who will also join in spending a lot of this money with the Mayor. We want to thank MH again and the CDC for their work.
This bond bill will provide opportunities for housing for many working class families across Massachusetts. 500 million dollars will go to public housing. We set up a subcommittee within the Housing Committee that travelled around Massachusetts and saw the dire need across Massachusetts in the area of public housing in units that were vacant, in units that were falling apart. So, this funding Governor, will go to bring those units on line. The Governor had also set up a commission on homelessness, the commission to end homeless which I had the privilege of serving on. And this funding will also help you reach that very admirable goal, Governor.
There's also 100 million that will go to the Capital Improvement and Preservation Fund. All across Massachusetts including in this neighborhood we're losing affordable housing due to expiring use. And there are many constituents who are very nervous about that. This fund seeks to address that issue. And when I was talking about the public housing I see Sandy Enriquez, Tom Wade, Brian Cloonan, Steve Merit, Tom Connelly - these people are out on the front lines and all of their colleagues - Amy and all the rest who are here who just do such wonderful work. And I know there's folks here from Faneuil Housing which is state housing, Faneuil Garden Apartments, and hopefully we can work to improve their situation as well.
Governor Patrick, Secretary O'Connell, Undersecretary Brooks, legislators who are with us it's great to be here, really to celebrate this much needed Bond Bill. This is a perfect example of when the legislature and governor work together we can accomplish a lot. This Bond Bill is really a benchmark on how we work together because working together we can accomplish a lot. All of us going our separate ways, nothing gets done. We know this is great news for Boston and the Commonwealth. I'm proud this bill will authorized resources for several housing programs to make a difference in many people's lives. These tools can help improve and create housing; strengthen our economy and our neighborhood. Today is a very important step, there's not doubt about it. We're working hard for the development of the community - both the non-profit and for-profit, to leverage these resources to get shovels in the ground is just as important. I look forward to working with you to use this bill to spur progress and growth.
Let me briefly tell you how the bond bill finance commitments have made key components of "Lead the Way" 1 and 2, the plan by my administration when Charlotte Golar-Richie was there -- you stole her. You stole some of my ……as a matter of fact. And you never paid them back either -- my administration created to preserve and create affordable housing. The affordable housing trust provided just under 37 million dollars to support the development of over 1,600 unites of housing on "Leading the Way" such as Maverick in East Boston.
The Housing Innovation program funded 19.5 million dollars in "Lead the Way" projects that supported 1,000 units of housing such as single-person occupancy for the homeless at St. Francis House or the Crittenton Hastings project in Brighton.
One of the most important provisions of this legislation is providing 500 million dollars for the modernization of state-assisted public housing. I'll tell you folks, that's so important. Public housing needs that support so drastically. The Boston Housing Authority is the largest housing authority in the Commonwealth. With more than 3,000 state-funded units, but it is faced with deferred capital projects in every state development. This legislation will go a long way to addressing these and many other needs for the residents of public housing across the state.
I hope we can apply this same collaborative spirit to the Orient Heights development - it's a little ask- in East Boston which is needed much needed improvement. I just want to say this is what it's all about, government's all about. It's helping people. I can remember being here when we opened these developments. It was cold. There was mud all over the place, but beautifully well-designed housing for the people in our state and our city who needed it desperately. Governor, you've done the right thing by the people of Massachusetts. The legislators here, you've done the right thing by the people of Massachusetts. It's about housing. Housing is an economic issue, it's a house issues, it's a quality of life issue.
So Governor and the Legislature, thank you for your leadership on this very important issue. People don't like to get involved- the housing issue is a tough issue because we in elected office want instant results. When it comes to housing it takes a little longer. And that sometimes wears on us. But it's so important that we engage. And Governor thank you; and our legislators, Kevin that you for your leadership. Susan Tucker thank you, and all the other the other legislators who are behind us, who supported this very important bill. It's so important to get this on the books and get the shovels in the ground to provide affordable housing for people in our state who desperately need it.
Thank you very much.
Now by now you're saying what the heck is he going add to these eloquent speakers right? Well you know, I've got to tell you, I got elected in 1995 as the Representative from Brighton and Brookline and then to the Senate in 1999 and ladies and gentleman there was no problem we struggled with more, was with the public housing stock falling down. And nobody from the Executive Branch of government would stand tall and say we need to invest in it. And often times as we all as elected officials travel across our districts, people will say "How's the Governor doing?" Let me ask you, "How's the Governor doing?" Huh? "How's the Governor doing?"
Ladies and gentleman, the largest 500 million dollars investing in the infrastructure of our public housing stock. I see the executive directors, I see Tommy Wade, I know Brian Cloonan and Sandy is here. There are so many people who rely on this and it is unconscionable as I look back when Mayor Galluccio, now Senator Galluccio, we worked over in Cambridge with this problem - and certainly with my colleague Senator Wilkerson with the various problems in Boston.
There is an injustice when we have housing stock that is uninhabitable because of inappropriate maintenance and that what this bill will do. We'll be able to open up all the affordable housing that should be open and available to all those who need it. I am excited.
And that's it. Ladies and Gentleman I am so honored to share this on behalf of the Senate President and Senator Tucker who is the Senate Chair who could not be here. If she could have she would have, believe me. And I'm honored to share this.
You know the Mayor touched on it - think about what government can do when most importantly we work together, but we also have the grasp and the support of the people out there who know and recognize that government is there for them. There is nothing we cannot accomplish. I'm delighted to share with you this great, glorious day; and as we move forward to most importantly invest in housing which is second to none on anybody's agenda.
So thank you and let's have a great day. Thank you very, very much.