No on Question 2
The lack of affordable housing hinders economic development in Berkshire County as employers are less likely to expand or move into a region if their employees cannot readily found affordable places in which to live. The state's housing law, Chapter 40B, which has helped alleviate this problem, is under assault in the form of a ballot question that misrepresents the law. Question 2 calling for repeal of the law should be defeated.
There would have been no need for 40B to be passed in 1969 if so many communities around the state had not established zoning laws that discouraged new housing, in many cases of out a bias against those with low incomes. In today's society, with the growing gap between the rich and the middle class, more and more families need affordable housing, and 40B is needed more than ever to provide it.
Chapter 40B allows developers to bypass zoning laws if at least 20 to 25 percent of the units in their developments are affordable to those making 80 percent or less than the median income in the state. Communities are exempt from 40B once 10 percent of their units meet affordability guidelines, which undermines the argument of advocates of Question 2 that 40B will bury towns and cities in multi-family dwellings. Profit restrictions in 40B discourage developers from pushing for affordable housing simply to make money.
Roughly 50,000 homes have been produced under 40B, with the Hillside Avenue Housing rental development in Great Barrington developed by the Community Development Corporation of South Berkshire on a site donated by the town providing an excellent example of this valuable program. Roughly 11,000 more homes ready for construction under 40B will go unbuilt should the housing law be repealed. If first-time home buyers want to stay in Berkshire communities they grow up in, if senior citizens want to stay in the Berkshire communities they have always lived in, many will need the help Chapter 40B was designed to provide and has provided Massachusetts for decades.
More than 1,000 groups have come out against the repeal, among them religious organizations, mayors and selectmen, environmental organizations, seniors and veterans organizations, business groups and health and human services agencies. This broad-based coalition realizes there is a need for affordable housing and knows that 40B plays a critical role in assuring that it is built. This is just another in a long line of special interest ballot questions that afflict the state every two years. The Eagle endorses a No vote on Question 2.
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