There is a crisis in affordable housing across the country.  In Massachusetts it surfaces as increasing homelessness in Greenfield; in Cambridge as skyrocketing housing costs and the displacement of the 99%; in Fall River as available housing that is unsuitable for those that need it because there is a lack of public transportation; in multiple Boston suburbs as a refusal of the affluent to zone for affordable housing; in Boston it results in 40% of new condos being purchased by overseas investors who don’t move in but hold their apartments as investments.

Some people believe that the housing crisis can be solved by increasing the number of houses and apartments that private developers build.  The argument is that with increasing the supply, the price will come down. However, analyses across the country and in several European countries fail to provide evidence to support this theory.  The reasons are not clear, but one major element is that with increasing urbanization, the cost of land goes up, preventing the operation of the expected downturn in price as the number of units go up.

Therefore: Do not expect the private sector to solve the housing crisis. As New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio‐Cortez said earlier this year:  housing should be “legislated as a human right… What does that mean?  What it means is that our access and our ability and our guarantee to having a home comes before someone else’s privilege to earn a profit.”

We need a strategy that leads to social housing:  Construction of adequate housing constructed by a combination of government agencies, by non-for-profits, by cooperatives and by land-trusts.

Meanwhile, we need to prevent the worst effects of a housing market driven by for profit developers.

Almost all OR-affiliates are involved in local struggles about affordable housing and displacement.

Chicopee, Franklin County, MetroWest, Somerville, Cambridge, Newton, (others- see May RC minutes)

Representative Mike Connolly has introduced multiple bills that, collectively, would promote affordable housing and prevent displacement

HD.1100 — An Act enabling local options for Tenant Protections

If adopted, this bill would provide municipalities with the authority to implement rent-stabilizing regulations, just cause eviction protections, stronger condominium conversion and foreclosure protections, anti-displacement zones, and options to help tenants manage the upfront costs of leasing an apartment Co-lead-filed with Representative Nika Elugardo.

HD.1118 — An Act requiring zoning for multifamily housing near transit

HD.1118 specifically focuses on those places that are served by transit and requires that at least some multifamily housing be allowed by right within 1 mile of transit stations.

HD.1124 — An Act facilitating local approval of Inclusionary Zoning

The purpose of this bill is to put Inclusionary Zoning on the same footing as the other housing production categories found in the Governor’s zoning bill and related bills.

HD.1392 — An Act financing an Emergency Supplemental Affordable Housing Bond

This bill would add an additional $1 billion to last year’s $1.8 billion housing bond bill. $250 million of this added authorization is directed to municipal public housing authorities, and all work performed with these additional funds would be subject to fair labor standards such as prevailing wage.

HD.2847 — An Act facilitating Housing For All

This bill would add an additional $1 billion to last year’s $1.8 billion housing bond bill. $250 million of this added authorization is directed to municipal public housing authorities, and all work performed with these additional funds would be subject to fair labor standards such as prevailing wage.

HD.2854 — An Act enabling a local option for a tax on vacant units in large residential buildings

This legislation would enable a city or town to levy a tax on the annualized last agreed upon monthly rental rate of each vacant residential unit, to dis-incentivize homes that aren’t lived in, and all of the proceeds would be directed to a local affordable housing trust fund.