Major amendments sought by affordable housing advocates failed to pass during this year’s fiscal 2020 House budget debate, but lawmakers added more than $2 million in funding for local housing programs and affordable vouchers.
A consolidated amendment approved unanimously Wednesday creates a new $1.7 million line item in the budget, all of which is broken down into earmarks for community housing authorities and partnerships across the commonwealth. The batch amendment also increases funding for the Affordable Housing Voucher Program by another $400,000 and allocates $250,000 more for community education centers that deal with housing.
Those additions come on top of a Ways and Means Budget that increases public housing funding by $6.5 million — the first time in a decade that lawmakers significantly increased those subsidies — and bumps up support for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program by $10 million.
“Massachusetts, of course, has been experiencing some of the highest housing costs in the nation,” said Rep. Kevin Honan, co-chair of the Joint Committee on Housing. “Many of our constituents are struggling to find affordable places to call home. This budget reaffirms the Legislature’s commitment to housing.”
Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association Director of Public Policy Eric Shupin described those measures last week as “a step in the right direction.”
However, but warned additional investments are needed. Left in the budget’s breakdown lane were several amendments that CHAPA and other organizations had spent weeks advocating for, including one that would have changed the $10 million voucher increase to a $30 million increase and another to revive the state’s shuttered rental and mortgage arrears program. The median home sale price in March set a new record, at $377,000, The Warren Group reported on Wednesday morning.