FY18 Budget Override Updates and Federal Tax Reform

Please see below for these important updates from CHAPA’s Public Policy Director Eric Shupin:

FY2018 State Budget Override Update

On November 2, the Senate continued the process of overriding Governor Baker’s vetoes. While the House finished overriding all the vetoes last month, the Senate has indicated that they would not take up all of the overrides. According to State House News, the Senate does not intend to restore about $200 million in MassHealth spending that the governor cut. Two weeks ago, Senator Spilka is quoted as saying, “The governor vetoed $320 million from this budget. The House overrode $320 million. As of now we are planning on overriding approximately $124 million.” The Senate has so far restored $99.8 million, according to Ways and Means.

Here is the status of overrides of CHAPA’s FY2018 budget priorities for affordable housing and homelessness prevention programs as of November 2nd:

A veto to language in HomeBASE (7004-0108) was also overridden. The language will prevent families from being ineligible for HomeBASE because of a single violation of a self-sufficiency plan.

Unfortunately, vetoes remain for two of our priorities, the Tenancy Preservation Program (7004-3045) and New Lease (7004-0106). The Governor’s vetoes will stand if they are not overridden by the end of the year. With only two weeks of formal sessions left before the Legislature breaks before returning in January 2018, the overrides will need to be taken up soon in order to be restored. If you can, please contact Senate Ways and Means Chairwoman Karen Spilka to ask her to restore funding for the Tenancy Preservation Program and New Lease for Homeless Families.

Federal Tax Reform Update

Yesterday, House Republicans released their tax reform proposal, The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, to make sweeping changes to the U.S. tax code.  Unfortunately, the tax reform proposal will either eliminate or seriously impact federal programs used in Massachusetts to create and preserve affordable housing.

The proposal preserves the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) and the 9% credit. However, the proposal eliminates tax exemptions for private activity bonds and the 4% tax credit. The bill also eliminates the New Markets Tax Credit program and the Historic Tax Credit. Additionally, the House bill calls for cutting the corporate tax rate from 35% to 20%, which will significantly decrease the value of LIHTC.

For next steps for Tax Reform, Representative Kevin Brady, Chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means, will be marking up the tax reform legislation. Members of the Ways and Committee will have an opportunity to offer amendments during the markup next week. The bill will then be sent to the House floor for a debate and vote. The Senate is expected to release its own tax reform proposal as soon as next week, with a mark-up the week of November 13. Congress’ goal is for each chamber to pass tax reform legislation on the floor by Thanksgiving, work out the differences in a conference committee in December, and have the President sign tax reform into law by the end of the year.

CHAPA has already reached out to each member of our federal delegation to let them know our serious concerns about the negative impact that the tax reform proposal will have on affordable housing in Massachusetts. We will be circulating a letter for organizations to sign onto early next week about the tax reform proposal. We will also be staying in touch with the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the Housing Advisory Group, and our other national partners to monitor tax reform and weigh in with Congress.

Action Alert: Housing Bond Bill Hearing Tomorrow!

Please see CHAPA’s Action Alert below:

The Housing Bond Bill, our legislative priority in affordable housing, has a hearing scheduled for tomorrow at the State House. The hearing is in front of the House Committee on Bonding and Capital Assets at 10 am in room B2. The testimony is facilitated by Citizen’s Housing And Planning Association (CHAPA).
The Bond Bill, (H.3925) An Act financing the production and preservation of housing for low and moderate income residents,invests $1.7 billion through the capital budget in affordable housing over five years providing critical funding to produce, preserve and modernize public and affordable housing in communities across Commonwealth. Please click here for a fact sheet of the bill.
We urge you to attend the hearing or submit your written testimony to the House Committee on Bonding and Capital Assets, in support of the bill. Please let us know if you need any further information.
Thank you for your efforts!

Abhidnya Kurve
Policy Associate
Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association
18 Tremont Street, Suite 401, Boston, MA 02108
t. 617-742-0820 x113  f. 617-742-3953

Advocacy Alert in support of RAFT Override – today!

The Senate will almost definitely take up the RAFT override early this week.  Please read below and act today! This week’s action request is focused on the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition homelessness prevention program (RAFT, line item 7004-9316).

We are continuing to advocate for an override of the Governor’s RAFT veto. A Senate override would restore the proposed $2 million increase to RAFT, and restore the language that would allow the program to keep serving unaccompanied youth, elders, people with disabilities, and other households without minor children.

During FY’17, 3,980 households were served by RAFT. This included 124 households who previously were ineligible under the more limited definition of family, 56% of which were households with disabilities. With $15 million in FY’18 (including the earmark of $2 million for households without minor children), we anticipate that the state would be able to prevent homelessness for an estimated 4,878 households, based on the average FY’16 RAFT expenditure of $3,075/household (including the $539 administrative fee for each household approved). According to the 2015-2016 RAFT report published by the Regional Housing Network of Massachusetts, the state’s FY’16 RAFT investment of $12.5 million saved the Commonwealth an estimated $137 million. This veto override already was approved by a 135-20 vote in the House.

Amherst Affordable Housing Forum: 10/25, 7 pm


Working the Amherst Housing Puzzle: A Community Problem Solving Forum 

Dear All,

We invite you to participate in next Wednesday’s Amherst Housing Forum (October 25).  We have new data and new ideas to share with the community.  We expect to engage in interesting and valuable conversations about what we can do to address our local housing problems.

During the past 10-15 years, Amherst has lost an estimated 800 households with children under 18, according to US Census data.  Significant numbers of homeless individuals are served each year by local service providers, but rarely placed in housing.  Barriers to developing new affordable housing in Amherst for both individuals and families often appear insurmountable.  What can we do?

These are the issues to be addressed by this Forum.  We are bringing together persons from both within and outside Amherst to lend their knowledge and experience to these issues.  But most importantly we are convening the community to discuss and develop ideas about what we can do to make changes.

This is a collaboration of the Amherst League of Women Voters, the Amherst Municipal Affordable Housing Trust, Valley Community Development Corporation, and the Unitarian-Universality Society of Amherst. It is set for Wednesday, October 25, 7 P.M. in the Social Hall of the Unitarian Universalist Society, 121 N. Pleasant St, Amherst.

The sponsors wish to encourage the broadest possible participation in this Forum.  This invitation was also sent to other individuals and organizations in Amherst.  However, we probably did not include everyone we should have.  So please forward this to anyone you know who might be interested, even if that results in some duplication.  Also, a flyer about the event is attached for posting.

Thank you for your assistance.

Yours sincerely,

John Hornik, Chair, Amherst Municipal Affordable Housing Trust

Rebecca Fricke, President, Amherst League of Women Voters

Joanne Campbell, Executive Director, Valley Community Development Corporation


P.S.  Looking for more detail?

Our plan is to organize the forum into three parts:

(1) An introduction and presentation of what the Trust and the Town are doing to address issues of both affordable housing and homelessness in the past year.

(2) This will be followed by a panel presentation on the development of a small, studio apartment building in Amherst to serve the needs of persons who have very low incomes or are homeless.

(3) The final segment will break the larger group into five smaller groups to discuss actions that could be taken to further address these problems.  They are as follows:

  1. Studio Apartments: Continued discussion.
  2. Encouraging and Supporting Development: How can Amherst best leverage available resources to maximize affordable housing? What are the barriers to affordable housing: What changes are needed?
  3. Preventing homelessness: outreach counselors – small investment for significant returns; useful models, effective strategies
  4. Finding homes: recruiting landlords; caseworkers to assist individuals and families in getting housed; useful models, effective strategies
  5. Changing the Amherst housing market: Developing Town and University policies to assure greater access to housing.