Executive Order

Executive Order  No. 605: Establishing a Working Group to Envision the Creation of a Housing Secretariat

Date: 01/20/2023
Issuer: Maura Healey
Mass Register: No. 1488

Table of Contents

WHEREAS, affordable, accessible, and well-maintained housing is critical for the physical health and mental well-being of the residents of Massachusetts and must be available for residents at all income levels, especially for our front-line employees, service industry, and public sector workers, such as teachers, public safety workers, and others who currently are at risk of being priced out of housing markets across Massachusetts; 

WHEREAS, high housing prices, if left unaddressed, will threaten the long-term economic competitiveness of our Commonwealth - the average fair market rent in Massachusetts is already significantly higher than the national average, and Massachusetts employers will struggle to recruit and retain high-performing employees if employees are unable to find accessible, affordable housing; 

WHEREAS, the high price of housing makes it hard to attract new residents and threatens to drive out longtime residents who form the fabric of our communities; 

WHEREAS, the Commonwealth should be a place where every resident has a place to call home where they feel safe and secure; 

WHEREAS, we can create a more inclusive and vibrant Commonwealth by substantially increasing housing production, in particular housing that meets community needs, preserving and upgrading existing housing stock, supporting individuals and families struggling with homelessness, and fully harnessing the power of housing to create economic mobility for all; 

WHEREAS, a multi-pronged approach is necessary to meet the challenges that the Commonwealth's currently limited housing supply creates across Massachusetts and throughout the economy; 

WHEREAS, the current structure of state government consolidates two separate policy areas - housing and economic development - within one Secretariat and under one cabinet official, making it more difficult to focus and achieve progress on either; 

WHEREAS reorganizing government to create an Executive Office of Housing, led by a Secretary of Housing, has the potential to: 

  • prioritize housing as a key driver of economic growth and increase the focus on, and resources available for, housing production and preservation;
  • allow for more cross-disciplinary collaboration to better connect housing to education, transportation, public safety, and climate; and
  • facilitate the implementation of a coordinated housing policy with a goal of working with local officials, state agencies, existing housing stakeholders, and public and private sector housing developers to meet our housing needs in a manner that enhances communities and expands opportunities; and
  • identify the possibilities, more clearly envision the roles and responsibilities of a new Executive Office of Housing, and define a mandate for a new Secretary of Housing; 

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Maura T. Healey, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution, Part 2, c. 2, § I, Art. I, do hereby order as follows: 

Section 1: Working Group to Study the Creation of an Executive Office for Housing 

There is hereby established within the Office of the Governor a working group to study the creation of an Executive Office of Housing and the appointment of a Secretary of Housing and to advise the Governor on the potential advantages of such an approach in meeting the Commonwealth's long-term goals in expanding safe, accessible, and affordable housing for its residents. 

Section 2: Composition of Working Group 

The Working Group shall be comprised of the Lieutenant Governor, who shall serve as chair, the Secretary of Housing and Economic Development other designee, who shall serve as the vice chair; the Secretary of Administration and Finance or his designee; the Executive Director of MassHousing; and up to fifteen additional members appointed by the Governor from representatives of municipal leadership, housing advocacy groups, affordable housing developers, market rate housing developers, and housing finance organizations, including one or more mayors from different regions of the Commonwealth. Members so appointed shall serve at the pleasure of the Governor and without compensation. 

Section 3: Report 

The Working Group shall provide a written report to the Governor detailing its findings and highlighting concerns the group recommends be considered in developing legislation, not later than thirty days from the signing of this Executive Order. 

Section 4: Compatibility with Existing Laws 

Nothing in this Executive Order shall be construed to require action inconsistent with any applicable state or federal law. 

Section 5: Effective Date 

This Executive Order shall take effect immediately and shall continue in effect until the Working Group has delivered to the Governor its study of the creation of an Executive Office for Housing. 

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