Governor Charlie Baker, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito and Housing & Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy joined Salem Mayor Kimberley Driscoll to celebrate the filing of An Act Enabling Partnerships for Growth at an event in Salem.
The $240 million economic development legislative package includes provisions of An Act to Promote Housing Choices to produce more housing, build community and regional capacity, support diverse businesses and create jobs. This bill encourages more market rate housing in Gateway Cities and similar regions by expanding the Housing Development Incentive Program (HDIP); invests in affordable housing near transit; provides new flexible, responsive tools to build vibrant communities; and facilitates further economic growth and job creation by significantly increasing support for small businesses and industry clusters.
Last year, following extensive public engagement and stakeholder input, the Baker-Polito Administration released Partnerships for Growth, an economic development plan with four pillars – Addressing the Housing Crisis, Building Vibrant Communities, Supporting Business Competitiveness and Training a Skilled Workforce – that serve as the framework for the legislation filed today by Governor Baker.
Governor Baker said, “Building on the success of our two previous economic development bills, An Act Enabling Partnerships for Growth invests in further housing development and supports small businesses and innovative companies throughout the Commonwealth. This important legislation, partnered with our Housing Choice initiative, will continue our work to promote growth and success in every region of the state.”
Lt. Governor Polito said, “Since 2015, I have visited all 351 cities and towns in the Commonwealth, and have had the privilege of visiting with residents to understand what each community needs to thrive – from housing, to the economy, and to their workforces. This legislation will allow communities across Massachusetts to provide opportunities and incentives to residents and businesses alike to ensure regional development and success.”
Governor Baker re-filed An Act to Promote Housing Choices last year to create targeted zoning reform to advance new housing production in Massachusetts and support the administration’s goal to produce 135,000 new housing units by 2025. An Act Enabling Partnerships for Growth includes these Housing Choice provisions to enable cities and towns to adopt certain zoning best practices through a simple majority vote rather than the current two-thirds supermajority.
This bill includes $50 million towards the construction of new affordable housing, including units for low and extremely low-income residents, and housing near transit hubs like train and subway stations, while mitigating traffic congestion. It also invests $10 million in sustainable, climate-resilient affordable housing developments to mitigate climate change impacts and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The legislation expands HDIP by increasing the incentive cap three-fold from $10 million to $30 million. To improve housing stability, the bill also makes $25 million available to nonprofits, municipalities and community development corporations to support the reuse of blighted or vacant properties.
Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy said, “After a statewide planning process that brought us to communities like North Adams, Chatham, and Salem and included extensive public engagement, we are excited to put the framework that is the Partnerships for Growth plan to work through this $240 million economic development package that encompasses housing, community development, and business competitiveness. This legislation builds on the state’s successful innovation and technology ecosystems by funding initiatives undertaken by universities and businesses, and also expands the Commonwealth’s investments in diverse small businesses and advanced manufacturing. We are grateful to our partners in the Legislature and in the Commonwealth’s cities and towns for your collaboration, and look forward to ongoing work to continue economic opportunity across Massachusetts.”
Today’s event was held near the future BRIX Condominiums, new housing supported through HDIP. Close to the Salem Commuter Rail Station, BRIX will replace the former Salem District courthouse with 55 market rate condos, six affordable units, and 3,000 square feet of new commercial space, and is part of Salem’s ongoing effort to transform the northern part of its downtown.
Mayor Driscoll said, “As the Mayor of a vibrant and busy city, I am so pleased that Governor Baker and his team are advancing this new economic bill and especially that it includes supports for critically needed affordable housing, funding for economic capacity building and community development, and, measures to boost the competitiveness of our businesses.”