Bonding with Legislators
Housing advocates are getting nervous waiting
for lawmakers to take action on a $1.25 billion
affordable housing bond bill.
“We’re getting concerned now because there’s
not much time left in the legislative session and
there are other bond bills pending,” said Aaron
Gornstein, executive director of the Citizens’
Housing and Planning Association.
CHAPA helped organize a legislative briefing
last week to discuss housing priorities. Several
legislators stopped by while others sent their
representatives. Dropping in were: Sens. Susan Scarito Homes in Lawrence, a condominium development that
Tucker and Anthony D. Galluccio, and Reps. opened last summer, was created with the help of the state’s
Kevin Honan, William Brownsberger, Byron Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which would be recapitalized
Rushing, Stephen DiNatale, Denis E. Guyer under a new $1.25 billion bond bill.
and James J. O’Day.
Affordable housing supporters want legislators to approve the bond bill, which recapitalizes programs like
the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. The trust fund has been used to create more than 7,500 affordable
units, including a condo development in Lawrence known as Scarito Homes, which opened last summer.
Gornstein said the housing measure was the first bond bill to be reported out of committee. The Joint
Committee on Housing had a hearing on it early last month. It is now before the Joint Committee on
Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets. The Public Housing Modernization and Low-Income
Housing Tax Credit programs, two programs funded under the bond bill, already have run out of money,
according to Gornstein.
Advocates also talked about other programs like the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program, which
provides rental assistance to low-income tenants. The governor’s budget includes $31.9 million for the
program, but supporters want to boost the number to $50 million. The increase would help fund the 5,000
rental vouchers currently used by tenants and add 2,000 more.
They also want about $3 million more than the governor wants to spend on housing consumer education
centers. The centers, run by nine regional nonprofit housing agencies, offer assistance to tenants, landlords
and homeowners. The governor has proposed spending $1.8 million for the centers. But more money would
help the centers respond to increasing requests for homelessness assistance and to aid in foreclosure
prevention efforts, said Mary Doyle, Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership’s policy director. In the
last fiscal year, the centers responded to over 53,000 questions from consumers, she said.