Ahead of a hearing next week on housing production bills, a coalition is speaking out on Gov. Charlie Baker’s proposal, saying it doesn’t do enough to help those hardest hit by the housing crisis.
“The governor’s bill paves the way for developers to build more housing, but does nothing to ensure that new projects include truly affordable apartments,” the Massachusetts Homes for All coalition said in a statement. “Making it easier for local governments to change zoning rules and for real estate developers to gain approval for projects might spur creation of some new housing, but the vast majority of it will be far too expensive to help deal with the actual crisis of unaffordability and displacement.”
The coalition said it fears the bill’s passage could make things worse by enabling the construction of more luxury developments and gentrification, while leaving affordability needs unmet for working class people, lower-income households and communities of color. They called for tenant protections to curb evictions, affordability requirements for new projects and increases in funding for affordable housing, homelessness prevention and rental assistance.
The coalition includes groups like Alternatives for Community and Environment, the Boston Tenant Coalition, Chinese Progressive Association, City Life/Vida Urbana, Lynn United for Change, Pioneer Valley Resist Coalition, Reclaim Roxbury and Right to the City Boston.
Baker pushed last session and again this session for passage of his “housing choices” legislation that would enable cities and towns to adopt housing production zoning changes by a majority vote, rather than the current two-thirds supermajority. Administration officials say the change would facilitate denser, transit- or downtown-oriented housing, and say Massachusetts is one of only a few states that requires a supermajority to change local zoning.
The Joint Committee on Housing plans a May 14 hearing at the State House on Baker’s bill (H 3507) and other housing production bills.