Negotiators seen closing in on $1.4B housing bill

BOSTON — House and Senate negotiators are nearing a deal on a bill to borrow and invest $1.4 billion in public and affordable housing over the next five years, though disagreements over the affordable housing law changes and the possible inclusion of stricter immigration eligibility requirements have bogged down talks, according to multiple sources.

The six lawmakers privately negotiating the legislation met last week in House Ways and Means Chairman Brian Dempsey’s office where the group was planning to review the latest draft of the bill, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the deliberations.

Though it was unclear how the draft was received, several people involved in the process said it was not impossible that a final deal could be reached at the meeting. The bond bill first cleared the House unanimously back in June and the Senate followed with a unanimous vote on a similar proposal in July.

A conference committee was named on Aug. 22, and held its first meeting on Sept. 9.

The bond bill includes half a billion dollars to renovate and modernize many of the state’s 45,000 public housing units. Undersecretary for Housing and Community Development Aaron Gornstein two weeks ago said the Patrick administration was preparing to announce an additional 1,000 units of affordable housing in November, but that it was contingent on passage of the borrowing bill.

The House also passed an amendment to the bond bill that would more closely align state public housing eligibility with more strict federal standards. The provision says that applicants ineligible for federally assisted housing will not be allowed to displace or be given priority over any applicants who are eligible under state guidelines.

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