On Friday, October 29, the Massachusetts House of Representatives approved $3.8 billion in new spending using a combination of Federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and state surplus revenue. The final bill included four so-called consolidated amendments totaling $174 million that funded projects in four areas – Health and Human Services, Economic Development, Housing, and Climate/Energy. The bill, which now goes to the Senate, included some, but not all, of MACDC’s priorities.
Affordable Housing: The bill includes $600 million for five statewide housing initiatives. While this was less than the $1.6 billion that CHAPA and MACDC had been advocating for it still represents an exciting and unprecedented investment in our housing system. The five housing programs are:
- $150M for Supportive Housing Production
- $150M for Public Housing Maintenance
- $100M for Homeownership Assistance
- $100M for CommonWealth Builder Program (homeownership production)
- $100M for Affordable Rental Housing Production
MACDC worked with allies to advocate for two key amendments on the House floor, but neither was included in the Consolidated Housing Amendment.
- Rep. David LeBeouf filed an amendment to provide $25 million for a Massachusetts Healthy Homes Initiative that would have provided funding to remove lead paint and other health hazards from 1-4 unit properties. The Amendment garnered 34 cosponsors but did not pass.
- Rep. Ruth Balser and Michael Day filed an amendment to fund a Right to Counsel program for people facing eviction. The Amendment garnered 77 cosponsors but was not passed.
Small Business Support: The bill coming out of the House Ways & Means Committee recommended $50 million for grants to small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis – far less than the $1 billion proposal we put forward with the Coalition for an Equitable Economy. Rep. Liz Miranda and 39 other Representatives filed an amendment to increase this to $200 million. The final bill did increase the amount to $60 Million.
MACDC appreciates the many Representatives who advocated for our priorities and we thank Speaker Ron Mariano and House Ways & Means Committee Chair, Aaron Michlewitz for putting together an historic and comprehensive investment plan that will improve the lives of millions of Massachusetts residents and create a healthier and more equitable Commonwealth.