Affordable housing shortages
Photo credit: Yeltsova

Increasing affordable housing shortages have led state policymakers to focus on how to best to tackle the issue, something we noted in our recent article examining ADU and tiny home legislation. Several states are experiencing historically high rent prices, exacerbating severe affordability crises. To address these problems, lawmakers are analyzing how state and local governments can promote affordable housing. Reforming housing agencies, increasing affordable housing funds, and formulating housing development plans have all been prominent legislative topics across the country in 2024.

Colorado Governor Signs Bill Pushing Action Plans for Affordable Housing

SB24-174 became law in May 2024, adding several requirements for affordable housing development. The law requires Colorado’s Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) to develop methodologies for affordable housing plans, operate grant programs, and support local governments in affordable housing development. Staff increases, statistical collection, and the creation of a housing document portal will support these plans.

DOLA will receive an additional $7.5 million to increase staff and create an affordable housing grant fund, alongside $15 million in fund transfers to the Housing Needs Planning Technical Assistance Fund.

Hawaii Bills Reform Affordable Housing Agency

In May 2024, Governor Josh Green (D) signed several bills addressing affordable housing shortages as Hawaii’s median price for a single-family home climbed above $1 million. Within the signings were reforms to the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation (HHFDC). One bill, SB2133, authorizes the HHFDC to issue bonds for affordable housing projects. Most affordable housing bonds will be tax-free, with exemptions for bonds issued for improvements by assessments.

A second bill, HB1760, allows the HHFDC to create a bond volume cap recycling program. Under the program, the corporation’s volume cap can be “recycled” if an additional debt instrument is established for further financing and repaying affordable housing projects. California and New York City have implemented similar systems.

At the signing ceremony, Green said the bills could “move the needle on unlocking more housing across the state.” 

Massachusetts’ New $6.2 Billion Affordable Homes Act

H4726, the “Affordable Homes Act”, passed the Massachusetts House 145-13 in early June of 2024 and sent to the Senate for its consideration. The proposal would amend the original act proposed in October 2023 by Governor Maura Healey (D). The new bill contains a wide range of initiatives totaling $6.2 billion, over $2 billion more than the original plan. Initiatives include $2 billion for improving the existing 43,000 affordable housing units, $1 billion for the Water Resources Authority, and two tax credits relating to affordable home and community development.

Healey’s version stressed the need for 200,000 homes by 2030, arguing that the proposal would create an additional 40,000. House Democrats are advocating for adequate, affordable housing numbers through the expansions.

Minnesota Legislature Looking to Reform Their Housing Agency

HF4194, introduced in February of 2024, is a significant appropriations bill for their affordable housing agency, the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency (MHFA). The bill would reduce appropriations to the MHFA from 2023 but provide for additional funding, including $30 million in aggregate housing infrastructure bonds. The bill also requires the agency to submit reports on the projected need for emergency rental assistance. The agency would report in collaboration with localities and nonprofits to legislative committees with jurisdiction over affordable housing.

The bill did not advance in the 2024 legislative session.

Pennsylvania House Considering Affordable Housing Action Plans

Representative Napolean Nelson (D) proposed HB2098 in March of 2024. The bill would amend the Pennsylvania Affordable Housing Act of 1992, adding that municipalities must provide housing and implement housing action plans. These plans must express the goals of expanding affordable housing opportunities and be updated yearly.

The bill is awaiting consideration by the House Housing and Community Development Committee, as of June 18, 2024. 

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