In a concerted effort to address the housing affordability crisis, Gov. Maura Healey’s administration has announced significant support for housing initiatives across Massachusetts.

With state funding and tax credits, the administration aims to aid the production and preservation of over 1,900 housing units in 19 communities, involving 26 projects, including several in Western Massachusetts.

At a recent event in Jamaica Plain, Healey, Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll and Secretary of Housing and Livable Communities Ed Augustus celebrated the initiative.

Healey highlighted diverse projects, from a church conversion in Boston to a nursing home repurposing in Northampton, demonstrating the statewide impact of these efforts.

“These housing projects are a great example of why we expanded the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit in our tax cuts bill,” Healey stated. “From a church transformed into mixed-use mixed-income housing in Boston to the reuse of a vacant nursing home as affordable rental housing in Northampton.

The governor said the funds will let thousands of Baystate residents affordable housing options.

“We look forward to continuing to work to pass the Affordable Homes Act this year to create much-needed housing across all income levels in the state,” Healey added.

In addition to these projects, Healey, Driscoll, and Augustus recently testified before the Joint Committee on Housing to support the Affordable Homes Act.

“The funding of these projects is proof that housing production for all of our communities is a top priority for the Healey-Driscoll Administration. The governor’s Affordable Homes Act will soon fund even more, much needed, affordable housing in the commonwealth,” Augustus said.

The act proposes a substantial $4.13 billion in spending and 28 policy changes to bolster affordable housing in Massachusetts.

An analysis by the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute forecasts the act to create 30,000 jobs, generate a $25 billion economic impact and produce $800 million in tax revenue over five years.

The act targets funding over 40,000 new homes and improving 27,000 existing ones, with a significant $1.6 billion allocated for public housing repairs and increased support for first-time homebuyers and affordable housing construction.

It also includes innovative policies like authorization for accessory dwelling units and a transfer fee on sales over $1 million for affordable housing funding. Driscoll underscored the act’s significance for local economies and communities. Widespread support is expected from various groups, including homeowners and business owners.

This initiative is particularly critical in light of National Low-Income Housing Coalition data. Massachusetts faces a stark shortage of affordable rental homes for extremely low-income, or ELI, households, with 313,607 renter households, or 31% of the total, falling into the ELI category.

These households, capped at a maximum income of $34,300 for a family of four, often spend over half of their income on housing, leading to significant sacrifices in other essential areas such as healthcare and nutrition.

The situation contrasts sharply with the income needed to afford a two-bedroom rental at the HUD’s Fair Market Rent in Massachusetts, which is $86,613 annually.

In Western Massachusetts, several projects will benefit from the state’s support, including residences at the Vault in Springfield, Library Commons 2 in Holyoke and Prospect Place in Northampton.

First Resource Development Company President Gordon Pulsifer said the money will support the Residences at The Vault in Springfield project. The Vault, located in the 99-year-old Federal Land Bank Building at 300-310 State St., will feature 52 apartments dedicated to affordable and workforce housing.

Pulsifer emphasized the historical significance of the building and the acute need for new housing in the Springfield area.

The Healey-Driscoll Administration’s multifaceted approach, combining immediate project funding with the broader legislative efforts of the Affordable Homes Act, highlights their commitment to addressing the urgent need for affordable housing across Massachusetts.

Keith Fairey of Way Finders noted, “The awards provided to our Western Massachusetts projects demonstrate the administration’s understanding of our challenges and exemplify the type of investments needed to create more housing affordability, choice and opportunity in our region.”

Way Finders recently showcased The Essex, outlining plans to convert a Victorian property at 213-215 Chestnut St. in Holyoke into 12 affordable family units comprising five one-bedroom, five two-bedroom and two three-bedroom apartments, all located across from the Holyoke Public Library.

Dennis Hohenberger
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