Sec. Augustus hits stride with new plans and policies to combat the housing crisis

The Gateway Cities Journal

Sec. Augustus hits stride with new plans and policies to combat the housing crisis

With housing front and center for state leaders in 2024, MassINC’s policy team hosted Housing Sec. Ed Augustus for a virtual discussion with Gateway City leaders. Participants included 15 mayors and managers along with 60 senior municipal staff representing 23 municipalities.

Highlights of the discussion:

Do more, quicker.” Augustus said Gov. Healey charged his team with creating a transformative legislative initiative that would move the needle on housing production. The Affordable Homes Act (AHA) released in October includes a $4.1 billion bond authorization estimated to create 45,000 new homes along with 28 policy proposals to facilitate housing production.

Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities Secretary Ed Augustus speaking to municipal leaders and staff of Gateway Cities on a virtual meeting hosted by MassINC.

The Legislature will hear the AHA next Thursday, January 18th at 10:30 am. Anyone who wishes to testify at the hearing must sign up by January 15th at this link. Written testimony can be submitted anytime to the Housing Committee by emailing Luke O’Roark and Christianna Golden.

Fact sheets for the bill can be found here and here.

The expanded HDIP program is open for business. The Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities (EOHLC) will soon announce Q&A sessions for developers and municipalities. Augustus stated that applications will be accepted on a rolling basis—something Gateway City leaders have sought to reinstitute—and that the agency will welcome new applications as well as those already in queue.

EOHLC will release surplus state property for housing. Several mayors described difficulties working with state agencies like the MBTA to secure property for housing development. The Secretary indicated that he has made this a high priority and that his office will work with Gateway municipalities to resolve these issues. Language in the proposed Affordable Housing Act would streamline this process and Gov. Healey issued an executive order directing all agencies to work towards this goal.

Passing a local option real estate transfer fee looms as the most controversial proposal. As proposed in the AHA, municipalities would be allowed to vote to adopt a fee on the portion of real estate sales over $1 million. Such funds would be deposited into a local or regional affordable housing trust and spent for the acquisition, preservation, rehabilitation, or construction of affordable housing. Housing advocates and municipalities have long sought this tool, while many real estate trade groups oppose it.

The Secretary wants to ensure that the state does not undermine its own efforts. Several Gateway City leaders identified new barriers that have been created through regulations that can add time and expense to housing efforts. Augustus highlighted the Governor’s new Unlocking Housing Production Commission to look at these issues and promised to compile feedback from Gateway City leaders. EOHLC will also lead the development of a five-year state housing plan.


Samantha Squailia officially steps into the top elected spot in Fitchburg.

Melinda Barrett is sworn in as the new mayor of Haverhill.

Newly inaugurated Mayor Peter Marchetti calls for one Pittsfield.

Sworn into a sixth term, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno pledges to focus on public safety.

At his inauguration, longtime Quincy Mayor Tom Koch lays out plans for a celebration of the city’s 400th anniversary in 2025, a new performing arts center, and a facility for the Ponkapoag tribe.

Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty is sworn in for a historic seventh term.


Brockton educators are concerned a new state law limiting schools’ ability to suspend students for misbehavior will strain staff.

Expanding free community college is among Senate President Karen Spilka’s top priorities for this legislative session.

Brookings looks at how local leaders leverage the CHIPS act for workforce training.

The Rennie Center hosts the 2024 Condition of Education in the Commonwealth on January 30th. Register here.

Housing & Economic Development

The Standard-Times covers the annual priorities for the New Bedford Ocean Cluster, which will launch a regional ocean tech collaboration this year.

UMass Memorial Health plans to convert the former Beaumont Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Center in Worcester to a 72-bed hospital building.

The Worcester City Council discusses the increasing number of homeless people in and around the Worcester Public Library.

A new Urban Institute report argues lack of supply is the reason why housing costs have spiked.

Alan Mallach offer ideas for LIHTC reform.

America is aging into a housing crisis for older adults.


New year, no fares: Beacon Hill bankrolls dozens of free Gateway City bus routes.

Massachusetts receives $20 million in federal funding to buy 85 electric school buses for Fall RiverNew Bedford, and Worcester.

TransitMatters worries poor service will undermine South Coast Rail.


The Gateway Cities Innovation Institute strengthens connections across communities and helps Gateway City leaders advance a shared policy agenda. Click here to sign up for the biweekly Gateway Cities Journal to receive updates on current policy issues impacting Gateway Cities across the state.

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