Affordable housing bill passes House


Last week, the Massachusetts House of Representatives voted to pass a bill that would increase spending for affordable housing in the commonwealth.

The $1.7 billion housing bond bill will help “maintain and expand affordable housing stock in the commonwealth,” according to a press release prepared by State Rep. Dylan Fernandes, D-Falmouth.

A key part of the bill is an amendment co-sponsored by Fernandes, which lengthens and increases the Community Investment Tax Credit.

“Lack of affordable housing on the Vineyard is eroding our communities as teachers, firefighters, hospital workers and many other working families are unable to find an Island home. The Community Investment Tax Credit has proven instrumental in advancing affordable housing on Island, and we fought hard at the State House to advance this key provision to the housing bill,” Fernandes said.

This tax credit would assist community development, as it gives incentive to taxpayers and businesses; those who donate over $1,000 in any one tax year to eligible community development programs are eligible to receive 50 percent of that donation back in the form of a state tax refund, according to the state website.

Stipulated by the amendment, the value of the tax credit will see a gradual increase of $6 million in 2018 to $12 million by 2023.

In Dukes County, the average home price is 54 percent higher than the state average, according to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission. The price of the average Island home combined with the average weekly wage being 29 percent below the state average creates a wide affordability gap.

With the tax credit, more taxpayers and businesses are expected to donate to community development corporations, which will equal more affordable homes built for families to live in.

Community development corporations like the Island Housing Trust work to build affordable homes for families. Executive director of the Island Housing Trust Philippe Jordi was excited about the passing of the bill. “Over the past several years, $450,000 in state tax credits has helped raised $900,000 in private donations to build 16 permanently affordable homes and preserve the year-round community on Martha’s Vineyard,” he was quoted saying in the press release.

Having passed the House, the bill will move to the Senate, where it is expected to pass.