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Packaged in a $14 billion infrastructure plan the Healey administration announced Thursday morning are hundreds of millions of dollars worth of new housing investments.

The centerpiece is a new, $97 million grant program dubbed “HousingWorks” that’s modeled on the existing MassWorks infrastructure grant program. The program combines several existing grant programs like Housing Choice and payments under the 40R “smart growth” law, and adds new funding to provide direct subsidies for affordable housing production and incentive payments to municipalities that meet zoning best practices and pay for infrastructure and planning work to support housing development, the administration said in its announcement.

In announcing the program, the administration touted HousingWorks as “flexible” and claimed it will provide the new Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities the capacity to help fund 200 to 300 new affordable housing units each year that are set aside for renters making up to 60 percent of area median income. A portion of the money will also go to a competitive grant process that will finance new “climate-resilient” affordable housing and retrofiting existing affordable housing in tandem with Gov. Maura Healey’s proposal for a “climate bank.”

“I’m excited about and intrigued by this new Housing Works program,” said Rachel Heller, executive director at housing advocacy group CHAPA. “This will help folks create homes – affordable homes and deeply affordable homes – at different price points.”

Healey’s HousingWorks proposal, by Heller’s calculations, adds $50 million to the money already allocated to its constituent grant programs, and should help fund the construction of mixed-income and affordable developments to be legalized under the state’s MBTA Communities transit-oriented zoning reforms.

The capital plan announced Thursday also included $120 million for rehabilitation, redevelopment and climate-friendly renovations of Massachusetts’ more than 43,000 units of state-supported public housing. It’s a $30 million increase on what the state is currently spending on the same programs, Heller said.

In both areas, the substantial increases in funding for affordable housing production and preservation are welcome, Heller said, but CHAPA plans to push the administration for more funding in the multi-year housing bonding bill Gov. Maura Healey is expected to file this year, which will also create the legal authorization for the housing investments announced Thursday.

“It’s important to acknowledge the rising cost of housing production – we have rising costs of material, land, labor, all the pieces that are needed. So more money is needed, more money is good and we need more than this,” Heller said.

Healey Launches $97M Housing Grant Program

by James Sanna time to read: 2 min