Question 2 on the Massachusetts ballot this November would rescind Chapter 40B, the state’s affordable housing law. According to the Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA), 80% of the affordable housing built since 2000 would not have been built without Chapter 40B. Most communities favor large lot, single family subdivisions and, without 40B, would not allow for denser, cluster designs or multi-family housing.
Housing permitted under Ch. 40B serves a broad range of households that are critical to our workforce. Many of the market rate units have increased housing opportunities by creating ownership units that are less expensive than the existing large lot homes and by creating quality rental opportunities in high employment areas underserved by the rental market (40B developments represent 53% of all new suburban apartment construction).
Massachusetts has one of the highest costs of living in the country and the largest single component of that is housing. It is no wonder that we have led the country in the outmigration of our 25-40 year old skilled workers over the past decade. If we are to recover our leadership role as an innovation economy, we need to keep these young families and provide them with affordable housing choices. If Chapter 40B is repealed it would immediately halt the creation of needed workforce housing and will jeopardize the future economic prosperity of Massachusetts. This comes at a time of high unemployment, growing homelessness, and the worst foreclosure crisis on record.
However, if that is not enough to convince you, read the recent study from the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute that Chapter 40B can spur an economic recovery. By allowing the 21,000 units of housing already approved to move forward, the Commonwealth would benefit from over $10 billion in spending and nearly 55,000 jobs. Now that is a stimulus plan!
So, Vote NO on Question 2 because it is the right thing to do for the young families looking to remain and work in Massachusetts. Or do it because we need to get the recovery going to provide jobs and to help stop the looming cuts to local services.