MAPC Statement on Economic Development Bond Bill

MAPC Statement on the Economic Development Bond Bill

For immediate release: Friday, January 15, 2021

The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) is glad to see that Governor Charlie Baker signed the $626 million Economic Development Bond Bill. In particular, we applaud the Governor and Legislature's work on advancing Housing Choices, which represents a meaningful first step in reforming the state's outdated zoning laws to address the severe shortage of housing—and especially affordable housing—throughout Eastern Massachusetts. Additionally, we are pleased that the Governor maintained language in the bill requiring multi-family zoning districts by right near MBTA stations, and we look forward to working with the Department of Housing & Community Development and our member municipalities to ensure workable timetables and guidelines for complying with this provision.

We are also glad that important funding authorizations remained intact, including, $10 million for municipal and regional planning grants, $90 million in funding for small business assistance through the MA Growth Capital Corporation and $30 million for the creative cultural sector. These, along with previous funding programs, will help our economy rebuild from the current pandemic.

While many important changes were made to facilitate housing production, MAPC is disheartened and disappointed that Governor Baker struck several key tenant protection provisions. With a looming eviction crisis, the Governor struck language allowing no-fault eviction records to be sealed and rejected a measure giving tenants a right of first refusal for the purchase of certain properties. There is no reasonable evidence that the right-of-first--refusal program would delay sales or limit production, while it would clearly help us to address displacement. As MAPC's "The COVID-19 Layoff Housing Gap" reports have demonstrated, at-risk renter households are disproportionately likely to include children, people who speak a language other than English at home, and workers of color. An equitable economic recovery will not be possible without policies to help our disenfranchised neighbors.

Moving forward, MAPC stands ready to work with the Baker-Polito administration and both branches of the Legislature to pursue an economic recovery and housing agenda that helps small businesses, tenants and homeowners to thrive in the post-pandemic Commonwealth.

Press Contact: Amanda Linehan, alinehan@mapc.org