February 2024

President Duffany testifies on Affordable Homes Act

HBRAMA President Michael Duffany recently testified on Governor Healey’s omnibus housing legislation, House Bill No. 4138, the Affordable Homes Act. This landmark bill authorizes $4.12 billion in bond funding to increase the supply of housing, rehabilitate and modernize public housing, and support affordable housing opportunities, and recommends policy initiatives to address fair housing concerns, enable accessory dwelling units statewide, and allows municipalities to raise revenue to fund local housing projects.

In his remarks, Duffany expressed HBRAMA’s support for the Healey-Driscoll Administration’s efforts to address the Commonwealth’s housing crisis. He cited the association’s support for many of the bill’s provisions, including:

  • Allowing ADUs by right in every residentially zoned district within a city or town;
  • $800 million in new capital authorization for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund;
  • $175 million for the HousingWorks Infrastructure Program;
  • $100 million for the CommonWealth Builder Program at MassHousing;
  • $35 million in new capital authorization for Housing Choice Grants;
  • $20 million in new capital authorization for the 40R Smart Growth Housing Trust Fund;
  • A new Homeownership Tax Credit to produce homes affordable to first-time homebuyers earning not more than 120% of AMI;
  • A Seasonal Communities Local Option Property Tax Exemption for the development of year-round rental units;
  • Requiring the Executive Office of Housing & Livable Communities to prepare a statewide housing plan every 5 years; and
  • Establishing a streamlined process for the disposition of state land for housing purposes.

While Duffany said there’s much in the Affordable Homes Act the association supports, he did go on record with its opposition to two provisions are contradictory to the goals of increasing housing production and making housing more affordable.

The proposal to allow cities and towns to impose a local tax on real estate transfers to fund affordable housing projects will hurt potential homebuyers by increasing prices and reducing inventory, said Duffany.

Duffany also testified in opposition to a provision in the bill that would amend the Zoning Act to lower the threshold for the adoption of inclusionary zoning ordinances and bylaws. Mandating inclusionary zoning without a density bonus will only serve to raise the cost of a new home or apartment to market rate buyers and renters and, in some instances, make a project uneconomic.

Duffany recommended the bill be amended to include a number of policy proposals that would help facilitate the production of new single-family homes, including:

  • Amending the Smart Growth Zoning and Housing Production Law to increase the amount of the zoning incentive payments and housing production bonuses paid by the commonwealth to municipalities for adopting a smart growth or starter home zoning district;
  • Establishing a state tax credit for builders who build new starter homes in compliance with the Municipal Opt-in Specialized Stretch Energy Code similar to the federal New Energy Efficient Home Credit (Internal Revenue Code, Section 45L);
  • Amending the Zoning Act to provide that adjacent lots under common ownership not be treated as a single lot for local zoning purposes, if at the time of recording or endorsement conformed to then existing requirements of area, frontage, width, yard, or depth, where each such lot has at least 10,000 square feet of area and 75 feet of frontage and is located in a zoning district that allows for single-family residential use, provided that any home built comply with the specifications of Chapter 40Y, the Starter Home Zoning District Act.
Click here for Mike Duffany's testimony on H.4138

Jeff Brem appointed to Commission on Unlocking Housing Production

HBRAMA Immediate Past President Jeffery Brem has been appointed by Governor Healey to serve on the Commission on Unlocking Housing Production. Healey issued an executive order last October establishing the Commission to recommend changes to state and local laws to boost the production of housing that is affordable across a wide range of incomes and available throughout a broad spectrum of neighborhoods.

The Commission will produce a report to the Gov. and Lt. Gov. that will include:

  1. An analysis of state and local legislation, regulations, and practices that influence the development of housing and the ways in which they can be revised to increase the supply of housing. Such legislation and regulations may include zoning bylaws and ordinances; subdivision rules; state and local environmental laws and regulations; state and local building, sanitary and fire safety codes; and permitting procedures, costs, and timeframes.
  2. An assessment of how state zoning, building, sanitary, fire, subdivision, and environmental laws and related regulations could be clarified to avoid interpretations that unnecessarily or intentionally impede the development of housing.
  3. Recommendations for legislative, regulatory, and policy change to facilitate housing production.

It is anticipated that the Commission will create working committees to investigate specific types of statutes, regulations, and practices relevant to the production of housing, including zoning, subdivision, building and environmental restrictions, which may include the State Building Code, Title 5 of the State Environmental Code, and local wastewater disposal ordinances.

The other members of the Commission are: Housing and Livable Communities Secretary Ed Augustus (Chair); Administration and Finance Secretary Matt Gorzkowicz; Economic Development Secretary Yvonne Hao or designee; Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rebecca Tepper or designee; Vanessa Calderón-Rosado, Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción; Easthampton Mayor Nicole LaChapelle; Rich Marlin, MA Building Trades Council; Levi Reilly, Marcus Partners; Jesse Kanson-Benanav, Abundant Housing MA; David Linhart, Goulston & Storrs; Tamara Small, NAIOP Massachusetts; Jennifer Raitt, Northern Middlesex Council of Governments; Peter Ostroskey, Former State Fire Marshall; Clark Ziegler, MA Housing Partnership.

The Commission will to meet twice a month with a goal of producing a report by December. For a copy of Executive Order No. 622 establishing the Commission click the button below.

Executive Order No. 622

DPU Interconnection Working Group to meet in March

With the support of Chairman Richard Van Nostrum, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities has scheduled the first meeting of the Interconnection Working Group (IWG) under the Healey-Driscoll Administration for March 20. Originally established by the Baker-Polito Administration at the urging of HBRAMA, the IWG brings together representatives of the development industry and the utilities to address challenges in connecting buildings and subdivisions with electric and gas service in a timely and cost-efficient manner. Led by HBRAMA Utilities Subcommittee Co-Chairs, Mark Leff of Salem Five Bank and Russ Leonard of Leonard Electric, the IWG has been an important forum for resolving many of the problems confronted by the association’s members.  

More communities adopt Specialized Stretch Energy Code 

Having become effective on December 28, 2022, 31 communities have now adopted the Municipal Opt-in Specialized Stretch Energy Code promulgated by the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) pursuant to the climate bill enacted by the Legislature in 2021. As of this date, the following cities and towns have adopted the Specialized Code:

Acton, Amherst, Aquinnah, Arlington, Bedford, Belmont, Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, Carlisle, Chelmsford, Concord, Lexington, Lincoln, Maynard, Medford, Melrose, Needham, Newton, Northampton, Norwood, Sherborn, Somerville, Stow, Truro, Wakefield, Watertown, Wellesley, Wellfleet, Weston, and Worcester.

The effective date requiring builders to comply with the Specialized Stretch Energy Code varies by municipality. Those dates are:

  • Effective July 1, 2023 (Brookline, Cambridge, Somerville, Watertown);
  • Effective January 1, 2024 (Acton, Aquinnah, Arlington, Boston, Concord, Lexington, Lincoln, Maynard, Newton, Northampton, Sherborn, Stow, Truro, Wellesley, Wellfleet);
  • Effective July 1, 2024 (Amherst, Bedford, Carlisle, Chelmsford, Medford, Melrose, Needham, Norwood, Wakefield, Weston, Worcester);
  • Effective January 1, 2025 (Belmont).

It is anticipated that more towns will have adoption of the Municipal Opt-in Specialized Stretch Energy Code on the Warrant for their Spring Town Meeting. 


The Specialized Stretch Energy Code may be adopted by any city or town by either a vote of a City Council or at Town Meeting. While the regulations do not require a concurrency period under which a building can be constructed under either the existing Base Code or Stretch Energy Code, the DOER encourages municipalities to provide for a minimum 6-month delayed effective date following local approval so that projects can be designed or revised to comply with the new code.

BBRS moves to adopt 10th Edition State Building Code

The Massachusetts State Board of Building Regulations and Standards (BBRS) has announced it will hold three hearings to receive testimony from the public regarding its draft of the 10th Edition of the Base State Building Code.

Specifically, the following regulations are proposed to be amended: 780 CMR 1.00 through 115.00


The proposed changes would fully replace the existing Ninth Edition with a new Tenth Edition based on the 2021 “I codes,” published by the International Code Council, including the 2021 IBC, IRC, IEBC, IMC, ISPSC, and IFC, with Massachusetts-specific amendments. 


The Board will hold the public hearings as follows:





February 14, 2024

10:00 am

Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center

1350 Tremont St

Boston, MA 02120


February 21, 2024

10:00 am

VIRUTAL link for virtual public hearing: download


February 21, 2024

10: 00 am

Springfield Technical Community College

Building 2 - Scibelli Hall Auditorium

Park in Parking Lot K

Members of the Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Massachusetts are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity to share their thoughts or concerns with the proposed 10th Edition with the members of the BBRS.

A copy of the notice of these hearings can be found here.

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