Advocacy Update – Will the Price be Going Up?

February 9, 2022

- By The MAR Legal Team

Once again, some advocates in Massachusetts are pushing proposals to increase the cost of housing. On the one hand, the state has made tremendous advances in both policy (Housing Choice and MBTA Communities) and funding ($620 million from ARPA, doubling the Low Income Housing Tax Credit) in recent months. However, for every step forward, we continue to see attempts to take steps backward. 

Taxing Homes 

Of foremost concern, the Legislature advanced several bills out of the Joint Committee on Revenue that would tax housing. The transfer taxes created by these bills would increase the bottom-line price of housing by thousands of dollars and set a dangerous tax precedent. 

Transfer taxes will worsen the state’s housing crisis, damage its economy, and stifle housing diversity and inclusivity. They provide municipal officials who have spent decades blocking housing production and spurning existing means of funding affordable housing with another tool to assure their neighborhoods remain gated. 

Read our letter to legislators and an article on our advocacy. Watch a short video explaining our opposition to transfer taxes. 

Increasing Housing Production Costs 

On February 8, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources released its proposal for a municipal opt-in net-zero stretch energy code as required by the state’s new climate law. MAR successfully blocked the adoption of this law last session, but it ultimately was enacted with a veto-proof majority in 2021.  

The local option proposal would require all new construction to either be entirely electric or, if fossil fuels are used, to include solar panels and prewiring for all-electric appliances. MAR supports enhancing climate resiliency, but we also recognize the expense that comes with these building requirements. Municipalities that adopt this new code will drive up the cost of housing production, costs that are passed along to consumers, and raise the entry price to their communities even higher. 

DOER will accept public comments until March 9th and is required to finalize the new code by the end of the year. MAR will continue its advocacy in support of incentivizing climate-friendly solutions at a reasonable cost. 

Pandemic Policy Extensions Update 

We previously covered the Legislature’s work on a recent COVID-19 funding and policy bill (H.4345). It extends two MAR priorities, remote online notarization and remote town meeting capabilities through July 15, 2022. The bill was passed by the Legislature on February 3rd and the Governor is expected to sign it into law in the coming days. 

To view the video update, click here.