BOSTON – State Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton) testified today in front of the Joint Committee on Housing in support of two pieces of legislation he has proposed this year to reform the state’s Chapter 40B affordable housing law.
These two bills – An Act Relative to Affordable Housing and Community Planning and An Act Relative to Long-Term Affordability of Affordable Housing — seek to amend Chapter 40B without detracting from its central, important mission of increasing the stock of affordable housing.
“I’m a strong supporter of affordable housing, and I believe the Chapter 40B law has an important goal of encouraging low and moderate income housing in communities throughout the state,” said Eldridge. “I oppose repealing Chapter 40B. However, over time it’s become clear that parts of the law aren’t working. The law does not give enough credit to towns and cities for their affordable housing, and at times creates news developments out of step with a community’s rural character. A sensible compromise is needed to help communities more reasonably reach the state’s 10% affordable housing requirement.”
As the law currently stands, any city or town that does not meet the “ten percent standard,” (meaning that at least 10% of the municipality’s housing stock is classified as affordable) is subject to expedited 40B permitting. This means that developers seeking to build affordable housing in those communities are able to override local zoning laws and go through a more streamlined permitting process. This has caused concern in many communities which are working to meet the 10% standard but haven’t reached it yet.
An Act Relative to Affordable Housing and Community Planning (S. 739) would reform 40B by changing some of the factors used in calculating the ten percent affordable housing requirement and giving credit to communities that are making steady progress toward that goal, while still applying some pressure to build more affordable housing.
A second bill, An Act Relative to Long-Term Affordability of Affordable Housing (S. 632), would help low income families stay in their homes and preserve the stock of affordable housing by requiring developers who receive tax breaks to keep the housing affordable for 99 years, rather than the current 15-20 years that is typical.
For more information on the bills, go www.SenatorEldridge.com/legislation.