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ALL-OR-SOMETHING DYNAMIC SWIRLS AROUND HOUSING DEBATE [+AUDIO]

By Chris Lisinski
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, MAY 14, 2019.....The housing production legislation Gov. Charlie Baker refiled this session includes elements lawmakers added the last time around to track progress toward goals and prompt new construction near public transit. But as the state's housing crunch rages on, opinion is still split over whether the bill goes far enough to help those most affected by the situation.


Affordable housing advocates, wearing stickers that read "Luxury housing won't help us," left their seats and stood in the aisle of the Gardner Auditorium on Tuesday while Housing and Economic Development Secretary Michael Kennealy testified about Gov. Charlie Baker's housing bill. [Photo: Sam Doran/SHNS]

Nearly ten months after late-session talks fell through, debate on the proposal formally restarted at a Joint Committee on Housing hearing Tuesday, where supporters again described it as a needed move to address a growing problem, opponents called for alternatives with additional measures, and the administration's own testimony was backdropped by a line of silent protesters who warned that Baker's bill would widen inequality.

The crux of Baker's bill (H 3507) is lowering the threshold for new projects from a two-thirds majority of the relevant municipal body to a simple majority. Housing production has slowed dramatically in recent decades, leading to a shortage in supply, and Baker argued that many developments that reverse the trend are scuttled by a minority of local opponents.


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