As more communities in eastern Massachusetts show a willingness to defy the state’s new multifamily zoning law, Gov. Maura Healey on Tuesday tried to draft business executives into her efforts to shore up support for measures meant to spur badly-needed housing production.

“High costs, we know, are a significant barrier. They’re a reason why people can’t afford to stay here, they’re a reason why people can’t afford to move here. When I talk to companies, maybe the single greatest challenge their teams face in landing and recruiting and retaining talent is the high cost of housing,” Healey said at a New England Council breakfast. She added, “This is a problem. It is the number one issue hindering our economic competitiveness. And as your governor, I want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to take that off the table.”

The governor made her usual pitch for her $4.1 billion housing policy and bond bill, but talk during the Q&A portion of the breakfast shifted to the MBTA Communities Act, the 2021 law that requires cities and towns near T service to adopt zoning that allows multifamily housing by right in certain areas. Attorney General Andrea Campbell is suing Milton over its noncompliance with the law, and a handful of other communities have put up signs of resistance, including WrenthamMarshfield, Rockport, Chelmsford, and Wakefield.

“There are towns right now that are going through discussions about the MBTA Communities Act, which was a law signed by Governor Baker and passed unanimously, almost, by the Legislature. It’s good policy. So now the rubber’s meeting the road a little bit,” Healey said, reiterating that her administration wants to work with cities and towns to get them to comply.

She called upon the business executives in the room to help convince local officials in their communities that the multifamily zoning law will ultimately benefit the entire state.

“You guys are all leaders; people listen to all of you in your communities. Go to the planning board meeting, go to the zoning board meeting, go to this stuff, speak about the imperative, talk about your experiences as an employer or company, the challenges,” Healey said. “And help us make the case, together, for what we need to do.”

Guv Appeals to Biz to Join Housing Fight

by Colin A. Young time to read: 2 min