House and Senate move on HDIP, Lesser fighting for inclusive entrepreneurship provisions

The Gateway Cities Journal

House and Senate move on HDIP, Lesser fighting for inclusive entrepreneurship provisions

On Monday, the Senate Ways and Means Committee released its version of the biennial economic development bill. Similar to the bill passed unanimously by the House last week, S. 3018 contains provisions increasing the annual cap on the Housing Development Incentive Program (HDIP) to $57 million for FY 2023 and $30 million each year thereafter. If the full Senate passes this bill and it emerges from conference committee by the end of the session for Governor Baker to sign, the impact it will have on Gateway Cities is difficult to overstate.

By our estimates, providing $57 million to pending projects that need HDIP awards to break ground will yield 2,300 housing units and more than $700 million in total investment. With the increase from $10 million to $30 million going forward, Gateway Cities could produce 12,000 housing units and $4 billion in total investment over the next 10 years.

Progress on HDIP has been slow and difficult, but Gateway City leaders worked together tirelessly to make it happen. Together, 22 Gateway City mayors and managers wrote to House and Senate leaders urging them to strengthen this vital tool for the good of their citizens, regional economic growth, and the greater commonwealth. These executives were joined by 50 housing and economic development leaders, who penned their own letter laying out the difference HDIP has made to transformative projects throughout the state. The legislature has many demands and competing priorities, but time and again, Gateway Cities leaders have shown that positive change happens when they coalesce around a challenge and work together with legislators to solve it.

HDIP hasn’t been the only focus this session. Sen. Lesser and Rep. Cabral, co-chairs of the Gateway Cities Caucus, have been leading a valiant effort to ensure that growth in our commonwealth is stronger and more equitable. At the beginning of the session, they jointly filed An Act to Promote Inclusive Entrepreneurship and Economic Justice. All of the language in this bill was included in the version of the omnibus package released by the Joint Committee on Economic Development last month. While the bonding committee progressed the legislation with these provisions intact, neither the House version nor the Senate Ways and Means version contained this language.

Sen. Lesser has filed Amendment 507 to restore these important components. As it stands now, the package contains hundreds of millions of dollars in investment that will help housing and economic development leaders build a more equitable commonwealth. However, money alone is not sufficient. Forward-thinking policy change must complement public investment to ensure that economic opportunity is accessible to all. With support from the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts and the Coalition for an Equitable Economy, these meaningful and commonsense provisions passed through two committees. We remain hopeful that they will win the support of Senators when they take up the bill on Thursday.

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