Boston- State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield) voted this past Monday to pass legislation that would allow the Commonwealth to encourage homeownership in areas where a weak market exists.
“This homeownership incentive will encourage community development and revitalization by investing in neighborhoods where the housing market is deemed weak,” stated Downing. “This legislation makes the dream of homeownership a reality for residents across the Commonwealth.”
The legislation would allow the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to waive housing program requirements if they are inconsistent with promoting homeownership in weak markets. This includes reducing affordability terms to no less than 10 years from 15 or more years, and raising income requirements so that incomes that do not exceed 135 percent of the area’s median income will be eligible. The legislation makes up to $5 million available in capital money to be used for these purposes.
The bill also requires the Department of Housing and Community Development to develop criteria to determine whether a weak market exists. These criteria may include the concentration of assisted rental units, rate of homeownership, median income lower than area median, low average sale, high or unpaid property taxes, and vacant buildings.
The legislation now goes to the House of Representatives where it awaits further action.