Low-Income Housing Tax Credits & Opportunity Housing in Massachusetts, 2017

The 2017 Massachusetts Qualified Allocated Plan (QAP) prioritizes families in "areas of opportunity" when allocating tax credits. The QAP lists eligibility requirements to receive points within this funding category, and provides point incentives for projects based on their accessibility to employment opportunities, quality education and health care.

Opportunity

1. In the 2017 QAP, DHCD is requiring each applicant for credit to provide a narrative with the OneStop+ funding application describing services available in the community to the existing or future tenants of the project. Developers do not necessarily have to pay for the services, but must identify the services and indicate how they will notify tenants, on a regular basis, of opportunities for further education, employment training, and other important services.

2. Massachusetts specifies that it will continue using four priority funding categories, including location of a family project in an “area of opportunity.” The Department defines an area of opportunity in part as a neighborhood or community with a relatively low concentration of poverty based on U.S. Department of HUD data. In addition, DHCD identifies an area of opportunity as a neighborhood or community that offers access to opportunities such as jobs, health care, high performing school systems, higher education, retail and commercial enterprise, and public amenities.

  • To be eligible to receive points within this category, a family housing project typically must be located in a census tract with a poverty rate below 15%. Projects located in municipalities with overall poverty rates below 15% may also qualify for points within this scoring category. On a case by case basis, at its sole discretion, the Department will permit certain projects to receive points in this category if the poverty rate in the census tract and/or the municipality is 15% or higher, as long as the project is located in an area with compelling attributes that make the location desirable to renters. A family housing project also must include certain design characteristics: the project must be configured to contain at least 65% two-bedroom or larger units and at least 10% three-bedroom units, unless either percentage is demonstrated to be infeasible or unsupported by public demand.

3. If the thresholds described above have been met, DHCD will award points within this category as follows:

• Up to 8 points for strength of public school system: based on the percentage of 10th grade students that score in the Advanced or Proficient categories using an average of the 3 MCAS tests (English Language Arts, Mathematics, and Science and Technology Engineering

90% or above: 8 points

85% or above: 6 points

80% or above: 4 points

75% or above: 2 points

• Up to 6 points for access to employment: based on the proximity to jobs of the municipality in which the family housing project is located

5 miles or less: 6 points

7 miles or less: 4 points

9 miles or less: 2 points

• Up to 2 points for access to higher education: Two points will be awarded within this category to family housing projects located within two miles of community colleges and/or state colleges/universities within the University of Massachusetts system.

• Up to 2 points for access to health care: Two points will be awarded within this category to family housing projects located within one mile of a major health care facility, such as a hospital, an urgent care center, or a neighborhood health clinic.

The maximum number of points awarded in this category will be 14 points.

 

A balanced approach to fair housing provides affordable housing in areas accessible to proper education, health care, and employment. These areas should provide opportunities for tenants to live in revitalized communities. To see how Massachusetts provides incentives for investing in distressed communities, please click here.

Contributed By: 
National Housing Trust

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