Mayor Michelle Wu, along with several city councilors and State House officials, had a handful of football analogies at their fingertips last week as she signed a bylaws petition approved by the city council establishing a real estate transfer fee aimed at assisting the development of affordable housing and seniors. stabilization of the property tax of citizens throughout the city.
The legislation faces two more critical approvals — by the legislature and then by the governor — to become law. It could be a killer run to the end zone though; Governor Baker has already signaled his opposition to the proposal.
The city council passed the petition at its Wednesday morning session and Wu signed it in Mattapan at the Foley Senior Residences on River Street. The proposal has a history at City Hall and the State House. Marty Walsh, who served 17 years in the House before becoming mayor, had unsuccessfully pushed a similar idea.
“Secure housing, affordable housing is a human right for all,” Wu said. “This is a time when housing continues to be life or death, better opportunities and the basis for raising a family.” , she added. “This is a time when we are receiving tremendous support from the federal government. We’ll take this opportunity to put every dollar to good use… It’s also a time to lean in and say this is a time when we can help people even more. We can’t wait right now to add very small POS transaction fees… Everything we do to stabilize our residents is an investment in the Commonwealth and beyond.
If it receives final approval, the fee is expected to generate nearly $100 million a year to create and preserve affordable housing in Boston and reduce property taxes for qualified low-income senior homeowners, doubling the number of people who would be eligible for the seniors’ property tax. exemption.
Thanks to the legislation, the first $2 million of the sale price of a home in Boston would be exempt from fees. For sales over $2 million, the two percent fee will be paid by the seller and the funds generated will be allocated to the Neighborhood Housing Trust, which creates new affordable housing and preserves existing properties.
Wu pointed out that Boston could have doubled its funding for affordable housing last year if the fee had been in place. The transfer fee petition was originally proposed in 2019 by East Boston Councilwoman Lydia Edwards, who is now also a state senator.
Baker, who has left the door open to Wu’s other proposals like free public transit, said on GBH’s “Boston Public Radio” last Thursday that “as a rule, I don’t support this kind of things.
He pointed to the “billions” Massachusetts had for housing, meaning federal government money, while noting that the city’s housing officials had hundreds of millions of dollars on hand. “Those are huge numbers, folks,” Baker added.
Based on 2021 sales in Boston, a 2% fee would have earned about $99.7 million and affected about 700 transactions, although some transfers between family members are exempt from this fee.
As a new stipulation of this petition, the senior tax relief program (known as the 41C program) will be expanded by increasing the exemption and changing the criteria. Income limits would increase from $24,911 to $47,000 for singles and up to $53,000 for a couple. The changes would increase the eligible taxable population from 4,600 residents to 8,700.
Wu said Wednesday that state Rep. Brandy Fluker-Oakley of Mattapan would “support” the proposal in the Legislative Assembly. Have her sign the petition in the district of Rep. Fluker-Oakley, and in a housing development for the elderly, was a passage to the Legislature indicating how important this is for Boston.
“This is not only about increasing our supply of affordable housing, but also about protecting our seniors,” Fluker-Oakley said. “Now is the time for this to happen. We can’t just kick down the street and squeeze our long-time landlords and tenants… Our elders took care of us and now we have to take care of We can be more progressive in how we tax in this city.
State Representative Liz Miranda, who represents Dorchester and is running for a seat in the state Senate, said she will also be pushing for the petition during her final days as a representative.
“For many young people who grew up here, not being able to buy a house in the neighborhood where they live is actually emotionally overwhelming,” she said. “A lot of them are looking for a place in Brockton, New Bedford or Taunton. I wonder how far people will have to go before we do something about it.
The lecture program ended with Mattapan resident Laura Woods, who lives at the Foley, wishing everyone good luck. “I’ve been here at the Foley for 14 years,” she said. ” I appreciated. I wouldn’t be anywhere else.
Reporter Editor Gintautas Dumcius contributed to this report.