2021 has started off in the right direction in addressing the housing shortage in Massachusetts as there is good news on the legislative front. On January 7th, the House and Senate passed the Housing Choice bill, H. 5250, An Act enabling partnerships for growth, as part of the economic development package.
This legislation will enable cities and towns to adopt zoning related to housing development by a simple majority vote rather than a two-thirds supermajority as it currently stands.
Other important provisions in this 101-page bill will directly affect us here in the Valley. It includes 5 million dollars to fund broadband improvements that we desperately need, especially in Franklin County. There are several towns and thousands of households without access or inadequate connectivity. Also included in the package is 60 million dollars to fund affordable housing initiatives.
This bill has been one of the primary focuses of the Massachusetts Association of Realtors legislative priorities' for several years. We recognize that creating housing in all housing sectors, including affordable housing, entry-level housing, multi-families, accessory dwelling units, "in-law" apartments, and mixed-use housing, are critical in addressing the need for housing in the Commonwealth, including the Pioneer Valley. The support of our legislature is a step in the right direction.
The last stop is the Governor's desk. Governor Baker will have until Saturday of this week to give his response and hopefully sign the bill. Though he is very involved and focused on dealing with COVID, he understands the ever-mounting need to address the housing shortage here in Massachusetts. ~Stay tuned.