State Representative James Arciero, Chair of the Joint Committee on Housing, helped lead efforts to earmark $600 million for housing needs across the Commonwealth as the Massachusetts House of Representatives unanimously passed its spending proposal utilizing American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and Fiscal Year 2021 surplus funds.
The $600 million will be redistributed toward a variety of measures that will help those struggling with affordability, maintain homeownership and stable housing while Massachusetts recovers from the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The $600 million allocation includes:
- $150 million toward supportive housing production (housing for chronically homeless individuals, survivors of domestic violence, seniors and veterans)
- $150 million for public housing maintenance (rehabilitating and modernizing state-aided public housing units with new products that would improve sewer, water, heating, and electrical lines, failing fire alarm systems as well as the completion of previously approved projects that have been underfunded due to construction multi-phasing)
- $100 million for homeownership assistance (helping first-time homebuyers whose income can support a mortgage but who lack sufficient savings)
- $100 million for affordable housing production (support production of affordable rental housing for residents of municipalities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic in the form of grants and loans)
- $100 million for the CommonWealth Builder Program — a program created to help people of color receive new affordable homeownership opportunities.
“The investments made by the House address evident needs across all Massachusetts communities and sectors of the economy, particularly among those who have been disproportionally impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Speaker of the House Ronald J. Mariano said. “I thank Chair Michlewitz and the members of the Committee on Ways & Means, as well as all legislators, stakeholders and residents for their advocacy, guidance and work in making this bill a reality.”
The housing funding is a part of a $3.82 billion bill that addresses disparities exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill, which was passed 159-0, aims to facilitate recovery through one- time investments in a variety of public issues including housing, environment and climate mitigation, economic development, workforce, health and human services and education.
“This funding demonstrates the House’s strong commitment to housing preservation, production, affordability and addressing homelessness in the Commonwealth, both now and before the pandemic,” said Chairman Arciero, who spoke in the House Chamber on the funding. “As Chair of the Housing Committee, I am encouraged by the strong focus on housing funding in this legislation.
“Our continued commitment to providing every resident of the Commonwealth with a safe and secure place to call home is evident throughout the historic appropriations made in this bill,” Chairman Arciero added.
Chelmsford Housing Authority Executive Director David Hedison, former President of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO), said the funds will make public housing more safe and new units built will help address the state’s wait list.
“This investment focused on addressing some of the most critically needed repairs to public housing and also creating new affordable housing units shows an amazing commitment of balancing preservation and production,” Hedison said. “Focusing $150 million on public housing capital repairs is great first step in addressed the $5 billion backlog of work needed.”
“The funds provided through this transformational opportunity will help reconstruct and revitalize critical housing that will help the most marginalized within our communities and help those most in need,” Representative Arciero said.