"The housing crisis is not going away, and neither are we."
Boston, Mass. - The Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance (MSGA) today expresses its deep disappointment that no elements of zoning and housing reform were passed before the end of the legislative session on Beacon Hill. After the State Senate passed comprehensive zoning reform in June of 2016, expectations were high that this would be the session to address our region’s housing challenges, especially after the Baker-Polito Administration launched its Housing Choice initiative last December. Yet no further action was taken.
“It’s disappointing, there is no other way to state it. Everyone is aware that Massachusetts is facing a housing crisis that threatens our economic competitiveness and our quality of life, and yet no legislation came to a vote,” said MSGA Executive Director André Leroux. “As advocates, we can bring ideas to the table but we do not have the ability to legislate and pass updated zoning laws.”
MSGA supported Governor Charlie Baker’s Housing Choice bill as a critical first step but also proposed additional measures to address the housing crisis that threatens the ability of seniors to downsize and young workers to put down roots. Since last session, MSGA has consistently urged the passage of “Great Neighborhoods” legislation to address the urgent housing needs of Massachusetts residents while promoting walkable and healthy communities.
“We hear every day from young people who might want to start a business here in Massachusetts but know that they can’t afford to live here. We’ve heard from seniors who feel trapped in their homes because they can’t afford to downsize,” said Leroux.
“We know that the Legislature hears from those people, too. It is frustrating that those voices aren’t translating into action.”
Massachusetts has been producing merely half the number of housing units constructed annually during the 1970s and 1980s. Over the last seven years, only ten communities can claim credit for nearly two-thirds of all apartment construction in the state, and Boston alone has built 37 percent of them. Encouraging more cities and towns to build housing would help the state meet its goal of producing 135,000 new homes by 2025. The last major reform of Massachusetts Chapter 40A zoning laws took place 40 years ago.
The Great Neighborhoods campaign was endorsed by over 100 organizations and local leaders, demonstrating broad support from advocacy organizations, business groups and municipal officials. Nearly 2000 activists joined the campaign over the last year.
“We’ll continue fighting and working on solutions to our communities’ challenges,” said Leroux. “The housing crisis isn’t going away and neither are we. The Legislature has to confront this issue. There’s no ‘later’ here, only ‘sooner.’” //End
About the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance The Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance promotes healthy and diverse communities, protects critical environmental resources and working landscapes, advocates for housing and transportation choices, and supports equitable community development and reinvestment.