Banker & Tradesman’s editorial board is right to underscore the legislative urgency of this moment (“Tough Time for Renters, Dilemma for Legislators,” Feb. 14, 2022). The impacts of the pandemic and the damaging legacy of racial injustice continue to put our entire commonwealth’s future at risk and investing in housing must persist as a top priority for the legislature.
Like Banker & Tradesman, CHAPA was very pleased to see H.1448/S.871, a housing production bill we wrote alongside Rep. Andres Vargas and Sen. Brendan Crighton, reported favorably out of committee. Legislation that will restore our vital public housing stock, improve the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program, and seal evictions are also moving forward. There is certainly plenty to be optimistic about, and we must ensure these bills pass before the end of the legislative session in July.
Yet fair housing was, for the most part, left behind with one bill’s deadline extended (H.1373/S.867) and two others sent to study. While we are disappointed to see these important bills stalled, this means we have more work to do to make the benefits of affirmatively furthering fair housing for every community explicit.
Accessible, equitable and sustainable affordable housing opportunities have been withheld from too many of the commonwealth’s families – especially families of color – through exclusionary policies and practices that have only drained our collective strength, such as redlining and residential segregation. It is our responsibility to undo these harms by enacting policy on the state (and local) level that prohibits intentional and unintentional discrimination and proactively ensures welcoming, inclusive communities for all.
We must ensure the bills that were reported out favorably are passed by the end of the session and work to improve the bills that didn’t so we can be ready to take them up next session. With four months left in this legislative session, it’s time to ask ourselves: Will we look back in 20 years and regret that we didn’t meet this historic moment with a broad range of bold policy solutions? Or will we lead ourselves to a thriving tomorrow by investing more in the place we all love and call home?
Jenna Connolly is the communications and events manager at Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA).