In full transparency, the following is a press release from the Governor’s office submitted to SOURCE media. (Stock photo).
BOSTON – At Friday’s Massachusetts Municipal Association’s Annual meeting, Governor Maura T. Healey announced that she has filed an Executive Order creating a Housing Working Group.
The group will be chaired by Lieutenant Governor Kimberley Driscoll and comprised of key stakeholders, including housing developers, advocates, municipal leaders and others to be named at a later date.
The group is charged with guiding the structure of Governor Healey’s new housing secretariat and informing the process of filing an Article 87 to create the position. The Governor has pledged to file legislation creating this new secretariat within her first 100 days.
“One of the single biggest problems facing our state – and the most important point of collaboration between the Governor and municipal leaders – is housing affordability,” Governor Healey said in her remarks before 1,000 municipal leaders from across Massachusetts. “Every community will have a role to play in meeting our housing goals, which will have real economic benefits. We cannot do this alone. We want to make this a win-win for municipalities who partner with us in this effort, so that your communities can realize the benefits of a flourishing housing market.”
“As a former Mayor and member of a housing authority board, I understand how housing presents one of the greatest challenges to our local leaders. That’s why we want them at the table, alongside other stakeholders like developers and community advocates,” said Lieutenant Governor Driscoll. “This new housing secretariat will empower our state to prioritize housing with the scale and urgency that this crisis demands. It’s critical that we take a collaborative approach to this process.”
In her address, Governor Healey also outlined her administration’s priorities on a number of key challenges facing municipal leaders and state government and emphasized the need for collaboration.
“As we look ahead, I want you to know you will always have a partner in Kim and me – we will listen, we will learn, we will reach out, and we will be there to confront our biggest challenges together,” said Governor Healey. “Because we know Massachusetts can only move forward if all our cities and towns are strong, our students and families are supported, and our main streets are vibrant.”
Chief among those challenges is addressing the impacts COVID-19 has had on students and closing opportunity gaps in education. To do this, the Governor committed to:
- Fully funding the Student Opportunity Act and meeting the needs of charter school reimbursement funds in her FY24 budget.
- Assisting school districts with the cost of transporting students and fully funding the McKinney-Vento program to ensure that homeless students can enroll in, attend and have the opportunity to succeed at school.
- Supporting the special education circuit breaker program to help maintain funding to assist all school districts with the cost of these critical services.
- Filing supplemental funding to ensure migrant children have access to the education and support they need to learn and thrive, and that communities have the resources to make it happen.
Pointing to the need for predictability, transparency and open communication between the state and municipalities, Governor Healey committed to early notification of local aid funding levels, including Chapter 70 and unrestricted government aid, in advance of her FY24 budget.
She also highlighted her administration’s recently filed $987 million immediate needs bond bill and $400 million Chapter 90 authorization bill, and the positive impacts they will have on housing, job creation, economic development, roads and bridges in cities and towns.