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The Massachusetts Senate has revealed its iteration of a significant housing legislation

Karen Spilka speaks in the Statehouse (Via Tobey Paul/Getty Images)

The Massachusetts Senate introduced its version of a significant housing bill on Monday, following similar proposals from Governor Maura Healey and the Massachusetts House.

Lawmakers aim to finalize a compromise version of the bill and send it to Healey’s desk before the Legislature’s session ends on July 31, addressing the state’s ongoing challenges with high housing costs.

The bill’s introduction coincides with an announcement from Governor Healey and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu that the state will allocate $15 million to help Boston convert large office buildings into housing.

Wu has advocated for these conversions to increase housing stock, especially as some office spaces remain vacant following the pandemic. However, such conversions can be costly due to the complexity involved.

Under the funding, up to $215,000 per affordable unit will be provided, with a maximum of $4 million per project. The application deadline for the city’s program has been extended to December 31.

Massachusetts Statehouse (Via Tobey Paul/Getty Images)

The Senate’s $5.2 billion housing bond bill does not include a proposal supported by Healey and Wu, which would allow cities and towns to impose a fee on the sale of high-end properties. This proposal was promoted by housing advocates but omitted from both the Senate and House versions of the bill.

Greg Vasil, CEO of the Greater Boston Real Estate Board, commended Senate leaders for excluding the proposal, emphasizing the need for policies that “remove obstacles to housing creation, thereby fostering the construction of homes across all price ranges.”

Key elements of the Senate bill include $800 million for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, aimed at developing and preserving affordable housing for households earning up to 110 percent of the area median income.

Additionally, the bill allocates $425 million in bonds to support housing preservation, new construction, and rehabilitation efforts.

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