Healey again points to new secretariat as housing solution

Chris Lisinski-State House News Service

BOSTON, Mass. (SHNS)–A Boston Globe report that found the Democrat-dominated Legislature contains nearly twice as many landlords as it does lawmakers who rent their homes.

The story generated significant buzz in Beacon Hill’s orbit, but Gov. Maura Healey on Friday did not have all that much to say about the findings. Healey focused on familiar talking points about the state’s housing crisis and her approach to addressing it, like creation of a standalone housing secretariat, when “Boston Public Radio” hosts repeatedly brought up the Legislature’s landlord contingent. At one point, co-host Margery Eagan said she found “something creepy about people that are millionaires, property landlords, voting perhaps against something that would help people” like a city of Boston-backed effort to revive rent control in the capital city, which requires approval from the Legislature and Healey to take effect.

“I’m not aware of the legislation that’s before them right now, so I guess that’s what I’d say, and I’m also not aware of many millionaires in the Legislature,” Healey replied. “What’s important here, Margery, is that we engage right now. We have to, like right now, like yesterday, engage in productive discussions and conversations about what are the concrete things we can do.”

Healey, whose tenure in the corner office is approaching the five-month mark, pointed to her selection of former Sen. Edward Augustus as housing secretary and her effort to identify state-owned buildings that can be converted to homes as steps toward addressing a debilitating lack of affordable housing across the state.

When host Jim Braude said there’s “no indication” the Legislature will approve a home rule petition Boston elected officials endorsed reviving rent control in the capital city, Healey replied, “I don’t know that I’d say that. There’s a lot in the details of all of this.” “People don’t want rates to continue to go up, they don’t want housing prices to continue to put things out of reach. But I think what’s hard is okay, well, what does that actually look like, and what are the measures that we need to take?” Healey said.

Wu’s rent control bill (H 3744) is before the Joint Committee on Housing, which has not held a public hearing on any of the bills referred to it this session.

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