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Massachusetts House Adds Housing Production Measure to Spending Bill

The Massachusetts House came around on the idea of expanding a tax credit program designed to encourage much-needed housing production, just not in the legislative vehicle that Gov. Maura Healey and the Senate originally envisioned.

Representatives on Thursday approved a mega-amendment to a fiscal 2023 spending bill that would lift the annual cap on the Housing Development Incentive Program from $10 million to $30 million, and also allow the Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities to issue up to $57 million in one-time credits.

Rep. Carole Fiola said those changes would make development of market-rate and affordable housing more feasible.

Healey and the Senate each sought to increase HDIP credits in their tax relief bills, albeit with slightly different figures, while the House did not seek any HDIP changes in its version of the legislation. The final tax relief measure remains tied up in private conference committee negotiations.

The House approved the mega-amendment that was crafted by Democrats behind closed doors 152-3, then approved the underlying $693 million spending bill 154-0.

Advocates from the think tank MassINC and mayors have been working on the HDIP measure, said Rep. Antonio Cabral, who predicted a backlog of developments could move forward if the amendment became law.

“This is one of the best housing programs in the Commonwealth for gateway cities,” Cabral said, noting construction costs in those cities rival the Boston area but the return on investment is lower, leaving a “financial gap” in smaller cities.

Rep. Mike Connolly, who voted against the consolidated amendment, said the Legislature should take a more concerted run at sweeping policy changes to address the housing affordability crisis. HDIP offers “generous” public subsidies to for-profit developers, the Cambridge Democrat said, urging his colleagues to act in an omnibus fashion as they have on criminal justice and clean energy.

The spending bill — which the House approved during its first formal session since late April — also deals with funding for hospitals, collective bargaining agreements, special education, a Maine clean energy project, and school nurse hiring efforts.

The amendment does not appear to add to the bill’s bottom line since it carries a fiscal note of $0.

Source : NBCBoston