Thursday, May 1, 2003

Romney and housing
While it is still too early to give praise, comments from the corner office about limiting changes to the 40B developer law are encouraging to see ["Romney backs housing law"]. The 40B law allows developers more power to ignore local zoning laws if 10 percent of a community's housing units [public and private] are not deemed "affordable." Most cities, because of Section 8 vouchers, large elderly housing complexes, and set asides, meet this requirement. But most suburban communities - with vast amounts of open space and very few housing units - do not. Towns have been fighting to kill 40B, along with buying up open space, in an effort to keep poorer families out of their communities. They say that they can't afford the higher school costs that come along with a large influx of children. But instead of getting at the heart of the matter - an education reform law that raised school costs with no significant results - towns would prefer to just keep the houses from being built. This action has limited the construction of new housing units - and limited options for working families and couples trying to buy in the market. $600,000 for a dumpy two-family in Arlington? $1 million for a cape in Winchester? Give me a break. It's insanity, but 40B needs to be preserved so that "the pain" of taking care of families - only the backbone of American society - can be shared by ALL communities.

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