While the $508-million housing-bond bill and theaffordable-housing bill are two separate proposals, legislatorsheld up the bond bill until the House and the Senate--which eachpassed its own version of the affordable housing bill--ironed outtheir differences. State housing advocates were concerned thathousing subsidies would be held up indefinitely if the bill didn'treach the floor before the state legislature ends its session thisWednesday.

The state's controversial affordable housing law, Chapter 40B,which was passed in the early 1970s to spur development oflow-income housing, allows developers of affordable housingprojects to bypass local zoning laws if a town or city has lessthan 10% affordable housing. The goal was to spread those projectsaround the suburbs rather than have them all concentrated in urbanareas. But local towns and cities have been pressuring theirlawmakers because they contend that developers have been takingadvantage of the law to get their projects approved.

Among the contentious issues of the bill was the definition ofaffordable housing and the power local officials can have over a40B project. As part of the agreement worked out in the House, newinclusions in the affordable-housing designation will be accessoryapartments that are occupied by persons who are at or below 80% ofmedian income and who pay less than 40% of their income towardsrent as well as housing units created through the CommunityPreservation Act that are occupied by persons who are at or below80% of median income.

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