Yesterday, the Senate passed critical legislation to preserve the stock of affordable housing units in our state and protect the rights of tenants in publicly-assisted affordable housing projects.
Our state is currently in danger of losing tens of thousands of subsidized rental housing units at a time when more people than ever are in need of affordable housing due to the economic crisis.
The “expiring use” bill, as it has been referred to for years, targets the state’s estimated 90,000 government-assisted rental housing units, including so called “expiring use” units whose affordability restrictions can end if owners prepay their subsidized mortgages or not decide not to renew their rent assistance contracts upon expiration. Massachusetts is at risk of losing more than 23,000 units by the end of 2012, when many of these contracts are up. Many of the residents in “expiring use” buildings are seniors or people with disabilities.
The Senate legislation establishes provisions that will help preserve as many units as possible. It requires owners who want to sell affordable rental property to offer a purchasing right-of-first-refusal to the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) or the local municipality where the property is located.
I am a co-sponsor of the bill and have been a longtime supporter of this legislation, which was endorsed by the Massachusetts Asset Development Commission this spring. The passage of this bill in the Senate marks a first win for the ADC, a step towards our larger goal of making sure all people in the Commonwealth are financially secure.
I believe our communities are stronger when all families have access to affordable housing options. Because housing prices are so expensive in Massachusetts, however, too many families are priced out of communities, and the amount of affordable housing available is often not enough to meet the demands. This legislation will take us one step closer to ensuring that families of all economic levels can live in safe, clean, housing across the district.
Read more about the legislation here. It will now go to the House of Representatives, where I hope it will be passed quickly.
This bill is just a first step, however. There are several other important housing bills that need to be passed this year, including bills to protect renters from being evicted if the house they live in is foreclosed upon and provide judicial review of foreclosures.