MAHA's statement on the use of American Rescue Plan Act funds
Make Homeownership Possible. Close the Racial Homeownership Gap
We are experiencing a crisis in Massachusetts where buying a first home is out of reach for most of our working families. These investments will stabilize individuals and communities. They will keep families together. And they will benefit our economy as a whole. We need younger workers in Massachusetts to generate economic activity. An investment in affordable homes is an investment in convincing these workers to stay here and continue to contribute.
If you are a person of color, Massachusetts is arguably the hardest state in the nation in which to buy a home. We rank 48th in affordability and 45th in closing our racial homeownership gap. 69% of white households in Massachusetts own their homes, but just 35% of people of color are homeowners. We can significantly change the wealth gap now!
We must use American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to address racial and economic inequities that existed before Covid-19 struck, and then worsened over the course of the pandemic. Communities of color that were hit the hardest by Covid-19 have been deliberately, systematically excluded from homeownership opportunities for generations. We can use these funds, at this moment of racial reckoning, to begin to repair the harm that has been done. And we should ensure that a significant portion of these resources are set aside for households making below the area median income, those who need this assistance the most in order to buy a home in Massachusetts. We propose using existing programs and infrastructure as much as possible and scaling up quickly as the best and surest way to spend these funds effectively and efficiently.
Our $1 Billion Plan To Help Over 10,000 First-Time and First-Generation Homebuyers Afford a Home in Massachusetts
•$500 million for supply-side solutions that build or renovate 2,500 homes for households below median income targeted at Boston, Gateway Cities, and other communities that have an aggressive Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) marketing plan. We should scale up existing programs like Commonwealth Builder and take advantage of the existing construction pipeline to buy hundreds of additional affordable homes in Chapter 40B developments and inclusionary development projects across the state. We should incentivize communities to work with developers to fast track approval and permitting of new affordable homes, especially on parcels that could accommodate larger numbers of units. We should use ARPA funds to buy homes for cash and write down resale prices so that first-time and first-generation homebuyers can compete in the market. We should subsidize the substantial rehabilitation of existing homes in markets where the values don’t support that private investment.
•$500 million for demand-side solutions including interest rate buy downs through existing mortgage programs that effectively and affordably reach households of color and other lower income homebuyers. Programs like the ONE Mortgage and ONE+Boston Mortgage administered by the Massachusetts Housing Partnership, MassHousing mortgage programs, and MAHA’s STASH matched savings program for first-generation homebuyers all have proven track records of reaching households of color. These targeted investments will help 10,000 homebuyers achieve their dream of owning a home in Massachusetts and help us narrow the racial homeownership gap.