In ceremonies in Quincy on April 24, Governor Charlie Baker announced the filing of House 3563, a $1.3 billion housing bond authorization bill. The legislation includes $600 million for capital improvements at state-aided public housing over 5 years. Noteworthy is the provision that authorizes LHAs to secure indebtedness for the preservation, modernization and maintenance of one or more of their state-aided developments by the pledge of a portion of their capital funds awarded to it for improvements pursuant to the DHCD approved Capital Improvement Plan. $50 million is authorized also for a Public Housing Demonstration program of cost-effective revitalization methods that seek to reduce the need for state modernization funding. The program will be overseen by a seven-member advisory committee including 1 member selected by MassNAHRO. The bill authorizes participating housing authorities to receive regulatory relief and exemption from a number of state bid and procurement statutes that historically have impeded the ability of LHAs to accomplish the effective revitalization of public housing.
The Demonstration program regulations shall require that, to be selected, an LHA must demonstrate innovative and replicable solutions to the management, marketing or capital needs of public housing. The new program regulations must also encourage proposals that demonstrate regional collaborations between LHAs, and encourage proposals for new affordable housing on municipally-owned land, underutilized public housing sites or land owned by the LHA.
The bill also expedites the sale of housing authority developments to private entities, and authorizes those local housing authorities not owning state developments under section 32 and 34 of Ch. 121B of the General Laws to be exempt from tenant board member elections, board training, executive director contract guidelines, the PMR, RCATs, the requirement for an annual plan and submission of AUP reviews. LHAs are authorized to retain the proceeds from the sale or long term lease of public housing property and to use those funds to build, maintain or preserve public housing. The bill streamlines procurement laws and public bidding requirements to reduce unnecessary bureaucracy and promote public/private partnerships to leverage capital expenditures with additional investment from the private sector.
The bill goes to the Joint Committee on Housing for further action and a public hearing. Members will be notified of the hearing date at the State House. House 3563 makes more changes to Ch. 121B than any other previous bond bill to date.