“I worked my entire life and supported my family. Now I am 64 years old with serious medical problems and a monthly income of $800. It is a struggle every month but if I could not live in affordable housing I would be homeless or I would have to burden my kids who are struggling to support their families.”
HELP PRESERVE AFFORDABLE HOUSING
Chief Sponsors: Senator Susan Tucker and Representative Kevin Honan
(2008 Bill No. S. 2799), 2009 Bill No. TBD
An Act Preserving Publicly Assisted Affordable Housing will give the Commonwealth a no cost tool to preserve some of the thousands of units of affordable housing that are in danger of being converted to market rate and depleting the available affordable housing stock.
“Expiring Use” housing refers to privately owned but publicly subsidized housing developments that can be converted to market rents when the mortgage is paid off or the subsidy contract expires. The Housing is “at-risk” because owners can choose whether to renew their subsidy contracts or to convert their property to market rate.
There are more than 24,000 units of affordable housing at risk of being converted to market rate between now and the end of 2012. This number increases to more than 40,000 by the end of 2019. While this looming crisis threatens the entire community, this problem poses a particular threat to the elderly and disabled community who represent more than 85% of the current households. Furthermore there are already 9 seniors waiting for every occupied unit of affordable senior housing. If we continue to lose this valuable housing the growing elderly population on fixed incomes will have nowhere to turn.
Proposed Legislation: An Act Preserving Publicly Assisted Affordable Housing
A compromise legislative package to address the so-called “expiring use” challenge was crafted in consultation with a broad group of affordable housing advocates, the Patrick Administration, legal service representatives, property owners, CHAPA and the Mass. Association of Community Development Corporations. In the 2007-2008 legislative session, the Senate passed the legislation unanimously. The bill was reported favorably from the Housing Committee and House Committee on Ways and Means but did not come up for a vote on the full House floor prior to the session ending. The three main components of the bill are:
1. Require owners to give notice (12 and 24 months) before affordability restrictions are terminated
2. Give the DHCD (and/or their designee) the Right of First Refusal when an owner voluntarily chooses to sell their property. This will provide an opportunity for long-term preservation of affordability.
3. Provide limited tenant protections for a period of three years for low-income residents that are not eligible for other protections.
For more information, please contact Carolyn Villers at Mass Senior Action: (617) 442-3330 ext. 19 or firstname.lastname@example.org or see the Greater Boston Legal Services webiste