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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 30, 2013 Contact: Sean Diamond (617) 722-1415

SENATE PASSES $1.4 BILLION HOUSING BOND BILL BOSTON – Senator Michael R. Knapik announced today that the Senate passed a 5-year, $1.4 billion housing bond bill to fund the production and preservation of affordable housing in the Commonwealth. The bill, S.1835, provides funding to rehabilitate, produce and modernize state-owned public housing developments across Massachusetts by promoting home ownership and rental housing opportunities for the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable citizens, preserving housing for the elderly, individuals with disabilities, and the homeless, and promoting economic reinvestment through infrastructure improvements. “This comprehensive bill makes necessary investments to address the Commonwealth’s aging public housing infrastructure,” Knapik offered. This piece of legislation includes significant investments that will make it easier for seniors and disabled residents to remain in their homes and in their communities. The bill provides $55 million for a home modification program for blind and severely disabled homeowners to make accessibility modifications to their primary residence. $47 million will be used for a loan program which will provide community-based or supportive housing for individuals with mental illness and individuals with intellectual disabilities. The bill also provides $38 million for community-based or supportive housing for individuals with disabilities who are institutionalized or at risk of being institutionalized. The bill allocates $135 million to the Housing Stabilization and Investment Trust Fund for the acquisition, preservation, and rehabilitation of affordable housing. $10 million of the $135 million will be used for producing homeownership opportunities in “weak markets”, areas with low rates of homeownership, vacant buildings or high concentrations of assisted housing. Knapik co-sponsored an amendment that allows new construction, in addition to renovation, of 1-6 unit

residential buildings in “weak market” areas under the Housing Stabilization and Investment Trust Fund. The amendment was adopted. “This technical language change will be very beneficial to Gateway Cities across the Commonwealth. In my district, there are many vacant lots where homes have been abandoned due to a multitude of reasons,” Knapik said. “In many cases, revitalization includes demolition and new construction when the property is beyond basic rehabilitation efforts” Knapik continued. The bill provides $80 million to the Housing Innovations Trust Fund to support innovative and alternative forms of housing including: single person occupancy units, housing for the homeless, battered women’s shelters, supportive housing for seniors and veterans, and housing for substance abuse recovery. The bill also establishes the Early Education and Out of School Time Capital Fund. The Department of Early Education and Care will use the fund to make grants to non-profit childcare organizations to make capital improvements to their facilities. Additionally, the bill authorizes $500 million for repairs and improvements to existing public housing developments. Those capital funds will address the backlog of deferred maintenance in order to repair, modernize, and keep state-owned public housing in good condition. The bill also contained other guidelines and provisions, including:  Expands the definition of transit-oriented development in the MassWorks program, so that projects that are within a half mile of a mass transit hub would be eligible for funding;  The bill allows the Housing Innovations Trust Fund to be used to fund permanent housing for the homeless, rather than just transitional housing. Additionally, the fund may be used for domestic violence victims, not just battered women’s shelters;  Provides that low or moderate income housing in Chapter 40B may include any housing that the Department of Housing and Community Development has agrees to consider as affordable.

The House of Representatives passed a similar version of this bill in early June. A conference committee will be appointed to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate proposals before sending the bill to the Governor. ###

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