Photo of a suburban neighborhood with a mix of well-kept, affordable houses, three-story apartment buildings, and duplexes, all of different sizes and styles. A busy corner store and other shops are visible; Morning summer sun gives the neighborhood a warm glow. One or two yards have small flower or vegetable gardens off to the side. People are riding bicycles in bike lanes. Families are crossing the street at a crosswalk.
The housing crisis also affects renters. The U.S. is currently short more than 7 million homes available to renters with extremely low incomes. Only 33 affordable and available rental homes exist for every 100 of these households, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition

Mass. lawmakers pitch new investments in affordable housing

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., says the federal government needs to get creative in addressing America’s affordable housing crisis.

It will take an estimated five to seven million units to meet current demand. Warren said a 15% minimum tax on billionaire corporations could help stimulate a bigger housing supply.

She’s also pitching a housing fund created with just 5% of the annual defense budget.

“It is time for the federal government to step up,” said Warren, “not to tell local governments what to do, but to be a good partner for communities that are prepared to act.”

Warren said it’s a matter of values.

The $580,000 dollars median sales price for a single-family home in Massachusetts set a record in November.

Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey has proposed a historic $4 billion investment to build more than 40,000 affordably priced homes and improve existing housing units.

An estimated $200,000 over the next several years will barely keep up with demand. Healy said if the state doesn’t “go big” it will pay the consequences.

“We’re going to have too many people struggling financially, too many people leaving, too many businesses looking to locate or relocate outside of the state,” said Healey. “That’s not what we want. That’s not who we are.”

Healy said she aims to preserve and upgrade the state’s aging public housing stock and convert more state land into construction plots.

State and local officials are also working to pass inclusionary zoning laws to allow for more accessory dwelling units, which include basement and garage apartments, and to keep them affordable.

by Kathryn Carley, Commonwealth News Service

Kathryn Carley began her career in community radio, and is happy to be back, covering the New England region for Public News Service. Getting her start at KFAI in Minneapolis, Carley graduated from the University of Minnesota and then worked as a reporter for Minnesota Public Radio, focusing on energy and agriculture. Moving to Washington, D.C., she filed stories for The Pacifica Network News and The Pacifica Report. Later, Carley worked as News Host for New York Public Radio, WNYC as well as Co-Anchor for Newsweek’s long running radio program, Newsweek on Air. Carley also served as News Anchor for New York Times Radio. She now lives near Boston, MA.

Languages Spoken: English

Topic Expertise: education, environment, nuclear energy

Local Expertise: Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine, New York City, Wisconsin, Minnesota

Demographic Expertise: public schools, families, children, nutrition

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