House FY24 Budget Update

May 4, 2023

- By The MAR Legal Team

Earlier we posted about the Governor’s FY2024 budget proposal. Next up in the budget process is the House, which spent the month of April drafting and refining its proposal, which it passed on April 26th. The House budget (H.3900) totaled $56.2 billion, around $700 million higher than the Governor’s proposal and about 7% higher than the FY2023 budget. Some key housing notes: 

  • Continued investment in housing assistance – As we previously noted, the Legislature continues to demonstrate a strong commitment to increasing funding for housing assistance programs, many of which demonstrated their effectiveness during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic with an influx of federal funds. While the Healey budget proposal averaged roughly 12% year-over-year increases across several housing assistance line items, the House averaged an 18% increase.  
  • Expands Pandemic Tenant Protections – Coupled with a 20% increase in funding for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition Program (RAFT), the House included language to make permanent a pandemic protection pausing eviction cases for nonpayment of rent for tenants with pending RAFT applications. The goal of proponents is to assure tenants and landlords can access state funding and preserve housing stability. However, opponents have raised concerns that the law incentivizes expensive and time-consuming delays.
  • Weakening MBTA Communities Enforcement? – The House added language during debate to remove housing authorities and nonprofits from the enforcement mechanism of the new MBTA Communities law. The law requires communities served by the MBTA to create a reasonably sized zoning district allowing multifamily housing by right. Read more about MBTA Communities. Towns that fail to comply stand to lose several state funding pots, including from the local capital projects fund, which has been used, in part, to help support local housing authorities. Though it could harm local affordable housing efforts if the housing authorities stand to lose these funds, the measure has already demonstrated its effectiveness at encouraging communities to pursue compliance (see e.g. Massachusetts enacted its most ambitious housing law in decades. Now the hard part is enforcing it, Boston Globe, December 4, 2022.). MAR was successful in preventing the inclusion of additional language that would give towns the ability to hinder the required zoning changes. Read MAR’s full comments.