Gov. Charlie Baker and members of his administration have been traveling the state to make the case for legislation he’s filed to increase housing production, but in two weeks they won’t have to stray too far from the office.
The Joint Committee on Housing has scheduled a May 14 hearing on the governor’s housing bill and other pieces of legislation to address housing production.
The hearing is a necessary first step in getting any bill to the floor at a time when the high cost and small inventory of housing in greater Boston has received a great deal of attention.
“Massachusetts is not building nearly enough housing to meet demand and as a result we have some of the highest costs of housing in the country,” said Sen. Brendan Crighton, a Lynn Democrat and the co-chair of the Housing Committee. “At this hearing, we expect important testimony from those who are impacted by the housing crisis in our commonwealth.”
It’s unclear if Baker will testify himself, or send another member of his administration, but he and his team in recent weeks have held events to promote his bill in Salem, Lawrence, Hyannis, Hadley and Easthampton.
Home sale prices in Massachusetts spiked to a record high for the month of March, with the median sale price rising 6.2 percent to $377,000 according to The Warren Group, publisher of Banker & Tradesman. An inadequate supply of affordable rental properties was also flagged as an ongoing problem in two other reports released this year.
While legislative leaders agree that housing affordability is a problem, the issue fizzled last session as Democrats struggled to put together a consensus on how to address the issues.
“Our commonwealth is in a housing crisis. There is simply not enough housing to meet demand or close the affordability gap. New housing provides jobs, stimulates economic growth, and strengthens our communities. It is critical for our continued growth and success as a state,” said Democratic Rep. Kevin Honan, the co-chair of the committee from Boston.
Baker’s bill that would lower the threshold needed to make municipal zoning changes from a two-thirds majority of the relevant board to a simple majority. Some Democrats, however, have floated different ideas, including stronger tenant protections and even rent control.
The hearing has been scheduled for 10 a.m. in Gardner Auditorium in the State House.