A long-term borrowing bill that will likely top $1 billion is emerging as a priority for affordable housing advocates, key lawmakers and Gov. Charlie Baker.

The House version of the bill (H 675) calls for $1.7 billion in long-term spending and reauthorizes bond programs dealing with a variety of housing issues, including $400 million for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, $55 million for community-based housing for people with disabilities, $600 million to modernize and rehabilitate public housing and $100 million for the Housing Innovations Fund.

Baker filed a separate bill (H 3653) that seeks $1.287 billion in additional capital authorization, which the administration said includes $650 million for public housing modernization and redevelopment, $400 million for the production and preservation of traditional affordable housing and $216 million for supportive housing and housing serving vulnerable populations. When he filed the bill in April, Baker called it a “critical piece of legislation.”

The bills were the subject of a July hearing and remain before the Housing Committee.

“To grow our economy and our world-class educational institutions, we must support our working families, young professionals and new retirees,” Sen. Joseph Boncore, the Housing Committee’s Senate chair, said at a Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA) advocacy day.

State government has long used capital spending to bolster the state’s supply of affordable housing. Massachusetts residents earn more than residents in most other states, but high housing costs, and a climate that’s not always hospitable to new construction, leave challenges for people and the government.

The median sale price for a single-family home in Massachusetts hit a record for July this summer when it clocked in at over $382,000, according to The Warren Group, publisher of Banker & Tradesman, which said July marked 16 consecutive months of year-over-year price increases.

The House bond bill also authorizes an additional $5 million in tax credits for private investment in multifamily rental projects that meet affordability requirements, through the Massachusetts Low Income Housing Tax Credit. Boncore said this would raise the total allocation to $25 million.

CHAPA counts the bond bill as among its legislative priorities for this session, along with a Honan/Forry housing production bill (H 3845/S 2131) that includes zoning reform measures and financial incentives for housing production, and a package of zoning, planning and permitting reforms (S 81/H 2420).

Rachel Heller, CHAPA’s CEO, said Massachusetts faces “pretty great” housing challenges, with high prices driven by a limited supply.

She said housing production here dropped by 52 percent and multifamily housing production by 80 percent from the 1960s to the 1990s.

“Although it feels like there’s a lot of development happening – you walk through the city, you see cranes, it feels like there’s more traffic, there’s a lot going on – we’re actually making up for a lot of lost time, when we had a big slowdown in production,” Heller said.

In Hot Market, Hill Eyes Housing Bond To Address Affordability

by State House News Service time to read: 2 min