Massachusetts upholds affordable housing law

Voters in Massachusetts voiced their support of one of the state's affordable housing laws, which had come under attack in recent months.

Chapter 40B was adopted decades ago with the purpose of giving developers and communities additional incentive to build affordable housing. However, opponents said many communities were using the rules to skirt their obligation to develop more low-income apartments, while developers were able to rake in cash. Supporters maintained that while portions of the law may be flawed, eliminating it altogether would do more harm than good.

"Voters today preserved the state's affordable housing law, ensuring that hard-working families and seniors have a place to call home and protecting thousands of jobs," Francy Ronayne, spokeswoman for the Vote No on 2 Campaign, told the Brockton Enterprise.

The law allowed developers to eschew local zoning rules and build apartments in single-family or business districts. Additionally, it allowed communities to designate entire apartment buildings as affordable – even if just 20 percent of the units were below-market – so that they could inch closer to having 10 percent of their city's housing stock considered affordable housing, as is required by state law.

Landlords in the state have long been signing low-income tenants to lease agreements under Chapter 40B. The law was put on the books in 1969 so that tenants making a certain percentage of their area's median income could receive rent subsidies.