December 2021
Baker and Polito will not seek a third term

Gov. Baker and Lt. Gov. Polito ended months of speculation on December 1 when they announced that they would not seek re-election in 2022. In a statement to supporters, Baker and Polito said, “This was an extremely difficult decision for us. We love the work, and we especially respect and admire the people of this wonderful Commonwealth. Serving as Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts has been the most challenging and fulfilling jobs we've ever had. We will forever be grateful to the people of this state for giving us this great honor.”
In their remarks, they noted that when they were first elected in 2014, their plans did not include 30 days of snow in their first 60 days in office. Or a natural gas explosion. Or a global pandemic. Among the accomplishments they highlighted were historic investments in housing of all kinds, enactment of the Housing Choices law to facilitate new housing production, and investing unprecedented federal funds to level the housing playing field going forward.
The HBRAMA is grateful to have had a stalwart partner in the Baker-Polito Administration for advancing policies to make housing more available and affordable for all the citizens of the Commonwealth. Moreover, many of our members have had the unique opportunity to establish a personal relationship with both the governor and lieutenant governor.
Some will remember the first time they met Charlie Baker in the fall of 2009, coming away impressed with his intelligence, energy and visceral understanding of the importance of housing to the economy, community and family. And, of course, many members have known Karyn Polito for years, as her family is in the real estate development industry and she personally holds a construction supervisors license.
The HBRAMA looks forward to continuing to work with the Baker-Polito Administration on housing, energy and environmental issues during the remaining months of their term. 
Emerson Claus appointed to Commission on Clean Heat

Governor Charlie Baker recently appointed HBRAMA President Emerson J. Clauss III to the Commission on Clean Heat in the Commonwealth. Clauss, president of Allegiance Construction in Whitinsville, will represent the homebuilding and remodeling industry on this 22-member body.
The Baker-Polito Administration’s 2050 Decarbonization Roadmap, published in December 2020, identified the need to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from heating buildings to meet the net zero emissions target of 2050. The administration’s Clean Energy and Climate Plan for 2030 recommended a special Commission on Clean Heat to advise the Commonwealth on how best to achieve legally mandated greenhouse gas emissions by reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with heating fuels.
Gov. Baker established the Commission on Clean Heat by Executive Order No. 596. Kathleen Theoharides, Secretary of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, will serve as chair of the commission. Its membership will include representatives from the field of affordable housing, energy efficient building design and construction, healthcare, heating system design and technology, real estate and heating fuel distribution.
The mission of the Commission on Clean Heat is to provide policy recommendations to the governor to meet the requirements of the Global Warming Solutions Act, particularly with respect to emissions from heating fuels. Policy recommendations shall include options to accelerate the deployment of energy efficiency programs and clean heating systems in new and existing buildings and transition existing distribution systems to clean energy, as well as financing mechanisms, incentives and other regulatory options, with consideration to regional differences, equity, affordability and costs.
The commission is expected to begin its work in January and must issue its policy recommendations by no later than November 30, 2022. 
Legislature poised to approve on ARPA Funding for housing

On November 30, House and Senate leaders announced that a deal had been struck on a plan to spend $3.998 billion the state’s share of federal American Rescue Plan Act funds. The surprise announcement came on the heels of the Legislature’s failure to do so by their self-imposed deadline shortly before Thanksgiving. The compromise bill is expected to be sent to the governor for his review and approval by December 3.
Governor Baker proposed last June to put $1 billion of those ARPA funds into housing programs, arguing that housing was an acute need of the Commonwealth. His plan was rejected by the Legislature, which wanted to reserve to itself how those federal stimulus dollars would be spent.
The compromise bill (H. 4269) does provide nearly $600 million in monies for housing programs. These include $230 million for housing production (homeownership and rental); $65 million for homeownership assistance (down payment assistance programs, mortgage insurance programs, debt reduction programs and mortgage interest subsidy programs administered by the MassHousing and the Massachusetts Housing Partnership); $150 million for supportive housing; and $150 million for public housing.
Of particular interest to members of the HBRAMA, is the provision in the bill that of the $115 million to be appropriated for MassHousing’s CommonWealth Builder Program, preference for grants and loans would be given to homebuilders whose projects include “clean energy and sustainability initiatives’ such as electric heat pumps and all-electric buildings. 
HBRAMA opposes bill to give notice to abutters of subdivision approvals

The Legislature’s Joint Committee on Community Development and Small Business held a hearing on November 23 on a bill that would to allow communities to require a planning board to send notice to all abutters of a proposed subdivision of any action taken on such plan and to inform them of their right to appeal the approval of the subdivision plan. Testifying on behalf of the HBRAMA in opposition to Senate Bill No. 157 was association counsel, Benjamin Fierro of the firm of Lynch & Fierro LLP.
The Subdivision Control Law (G.L. c. 41, §81T) already provides comprehensive notice and opportunity to be heard by any abutter to a proposed subdivision that wishes to express his or her support, opposition or suggestions regarding the subdivision plan. The HBRAMA is opposed to S. 157 because it will add further delays and unnecessary costs to the production of desperately needed housing.
To enable cities and towns to require their planning boards send notice to all persons that they had given initial notice of the public hearing and inform them of their right of appeal will only invite the filing of more appeals. Abutter appeals of the approval of a subdivision plan are oftentimes filed solely for the purpose of delaying a project in the hope that it will not be built due to a loss of financing or a downturn in the market. These are not necessarily frivolous appeals, per se, but they are tactical¾lawsuits brought with no intention of being pursued to trial (the abutters are, in most instances, unable to prove any harm unique to their property from the development), but brought instead to delay or extract concessions from the developer.
Senate Bill No. 157 is not needed to protect the rights of abutters. Further, as a local option provision, it will undermine the uniformity of the procedures for the review of subdivision plans set forth in the Subdivision Control Law.
A copy of the association’s letter in opposition to S. 157 can be found here.  
Chapter 40B the subject of public hearing on Beacon Hill

On November 9, the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Housing held a public hearing via Zoom teleconferencing on nearly two dozen bills to weaken or study Chapter 40B, the state’s affordable housing law. Testifying on behalf of the HBRAMA was its counsel, Benjamin Fierro of the firm of Lynch & Fierro LLP.
General Law Chapter 40B (G.L. c. 40B, §21-23) was enacted by the Legislature in 1969 to address local zoning and land use restrictions that make it impossible or economically infeasible to develop affordable housing. The law was spurred in large measure by the civil rights movement of the time. In this regard, Chapter 40B furthers fair housing goals by overcoming exclusionary local housing practices that drive up housing costs, limit rental housing supply, discriminate against families with children, and restrict housing for persons with disabilities.
Many of the bills heard by the Committee on Housing would weaken the effectiveness of Chapter 40B by counting mobile homes or Section 8 housing vouchers on a city or towns subsidized housing inventory, thereby making it easier for a municipality to reach the law’s goal of having 10% of its year-round housing stock be affordable to persons or families whose annual income does not exceed 80% of the Area Median Income as determined by the U.S. Dept. of HUD. Other bills would lower the 10% goal to only 5% for some smaller communities.
Several bills would establish a special commission or task force to study Chapter 40B. Attorney Fierro reminded the committee that in 2003, Governor Mitt Romney established a Task Force on Chapter 40B that conducted a comprehensive review of the law. Its report made detailed findings and specific recommendations for changes to 40B regulations and procedures to address local concerns with the law’s implementation and to improve the scale and design of the housing built through 40B.
Fierro also noted that the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development has made several additional revisions to the 40B regulations to address new issues or problems that have arisen since the Task Force Report was issued. Consequently, another commission or study of Chapter 40B is redundant and a waste of effort. 
A copy of the Report of Gov. Romney’s Task Force on Chapter 40B can be downloaded here
Proposed study on housing and climate gains momentum

Working with both the Wentworth Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology the HBRAMA Net Zero Subcommittee is close to concluding a contract with the two prestigious institutions to jointly study the effects of the upcoming net zero and net zero ready stretch energy code on housing affordability along with potential ways to mitigate any cost increases as a result of the code changes. The proposed study will cover cost comparisons of a variety of building types including both single and multi-family at several levels of quality and geography. The impacts of the cost analysis on affordability and the housing shortage in the state and an analysis of potential public policy initiatives to mitigate any negative effects brought on my increased costs. 

The Net Zero subcommittee is receiving support from the National Association (NAHB) and is in the process of developing partners and interested entities to help in funding the research study. It is expected that once begun an initial report could be available by late Spring 2022 with a final report to be presented at the International Builders Show in 2023.
Public Policy Fund needs your support

Nineteen years ago, the HBRAMA’s Public Policy Fund was created to enable the Association to target funds where needed to promote and defend the rights of builders, developers and property managers to provide needed for-sale and rental housing. Since that time we have used those funds to advance our Public Policy Agenda.

The Net Zero research project requires the support of our community. As such, today we are asking each member of the HBRAMA to make a contribution to the Public Policy Fund. The need to maintain adequate public policy funding is obviously critical to the HBRAMA’s success in influencing code development, as well as legislative and regulatory measures that adversely affect our industry and your livelihood. We are truly grateful for your support.
DPU Interconnection Working Group Meets

After nearly a two-year interruption due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Department of Public Utilities Interconnection Working Group met recently to discuss issues related to new connections to the electric system and pending connections to the gas system. The IWG was established early in the Baker-Polito Administration as a vehicle for the real estate development community and the utilities to work together to facilitate more prompt, transparent and cost effective installation of energy infrastructure to residential, commercial, industrial, laboratory and mixed-use projects.
The November 18 meeting of the Interconnection Working Group was kicked off with opening remarks by Lt. Gov. Polito, whose advocacy and support for the group’s efforts has been a major reason why it has been so effective. Mark Leff, Senior Vice President of Salem Five Savings Bank, and Russell Leonard of Leonard Electric in Lowell, are the co-chairs of the HBRAMA’s Utilities Subcommittee. Mark and Russ are the driving forces behind the IWG.
Much of the discussion at the IWG centered on homebuilders’ frustrations working on projects serviced by the major utilities. The common thread has been inadequate communication to builders about job status, as well as delays in providing that service. Russ Leonard emphasized that he believes the root cause is insufficient resources to complete work in a timely fashion, and also recognized COVID’s role in keeping utility employees working at home; resulting in declining communication between engineering and staffing departments. The HBRAMA Utility Subcommittee will continue direct conversations in the coming months with the utilities about improving performance and more transparency.
Join along with Massachusetts and Connecticut home builder members
to learn more about the retirement program
Webinar: Dec 14, 2021 | 4:00 PM

Join us to hear about this new exciting program available to our members! 
Besides being a tool to help you and your employees save for retirement, offering a 401(k) is also great way to help retain your top employees. The “NEW” HBRA Member’s retirement program offers the opportunity for you and your employees to begin building for their future without the hassle of a traditional 401(k). The HBRA’s program is:
  • Simple
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  • Cost Effective
Looking for continuing education hours for your CSL license? The new HBRAMA CSL education website features the latest in-person educational offerings.

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