Local Politicians Support Affordable Housing
Ballot Question No. 2 has to do with affordable housing, but this is one issue that local politicians agree on.
Out of the three questions on this year's ballot, Question No. 2 is an interesting one. It's one piece of legislation that most politicians believe should stay in tact.
Question 2 asks voters if they want to repeal certain section of Chapter 40B, known as the state's Affordable Housing Law. The law applies to towns that haven't met the state's requirement that all cities and towns have at least 10 percent of its housing dedicated to low and moderate-income residents.
"I believe it would be a mistake to repeal 40B," State Representative Jason Lewis said. "There is not enough affordable housing, particularly in the greater Boston area, and this hurts our economic growth. However, we do need to update 40B to give communities greater local control and ensure developers do not earn excessive profits."
Currently, a developer can apply for what's known as a "comprehensive permit" if it wishes to build a project that includes government subsidized low or moderate income housing in a city or town where less than 10 percent of the housing is set aside to those residents. The comprehensive permits allows the developer to bypass the multiple approvals of land use boards and instead go to only the Zoning Board of Appeals, who consider recommendations from other board and officials before granting the permit.
"I plan to vote No on the call to repeal Chapter 40B," said Lewis' challenger George Georgountzos (R-Stoneham). "Proponents of this ballot question are justified in their frustration with what Chapter 40B projects entail for local governments.
"Chapter 40B often times trumps important zoning ordinances of our local governments, who really are best positioned to make determinations about what should be built where in their communities. Unfortunately, the call to repeal 40B leaves no alternatives to the equally important need of providing affordable housing to those in our state who are less well-off financially."
Voting yes would remove the comprehensive permit portion of Chapter 40 B and a no vote would keep the law in tact.
In repealed, it would be effective on Jan. 1 but would not stop previously issued permits.
Chapter 40B is responsible for 80 percent of the affordable housing built outside the major cities over the past decade," said State Senator Patricia Jehlen. "Without this law, almost no new affordable housing would be built in most communities across the commonwealth. It has prompted nearly 100 communities to adopt affordable housing plans, and the number of communities which have 10 percent affordable housing has doubled to 51.
The Coalition for the Repeal of 40B says that the exiting law promotes subsidized, high density development that doesn't always consider local law, the neighborhood and environment and takes away local control of development.
The Campaign to Protect the Affordable Housing Law says that the law has created 58,000 home since it was put on the books 40 years ago and is responsible for 80 percent of the affordable housing that has been built outside cities in the past decade.
"For young working families, it allows them to live in the town where they were raised or where they work," Jehlen said. "It helps seniors stay in the communities when they downsize to a more affordable home. The lack of affordable housing is a serious barrier to job creation."