Rep. Gifford files bill to include mobile homes in affordable housing counts

Dec 5, 2019

State Representative Susan Williams Gifford has filed bills that would allow towns to count mobile and manufactured homes as affordable housing toward the ten percent quota required to allow local officials to stop 40B developments, and create a committee to study the impact of those proposed changes.

Chapter 40B is a Massachusetts law that allows developers to bypass some local regulations if less than ten percent of the housing in the town is considered affordable.

Gifford said that the current law “makes targets out of towns like mine and others with buildable land and existing infrastructure. It is an antiquated, one size fits all housing law that is hurting many communities.”

In addition, Gifford also filed a bill which would establish a commission to study the definition of affordable housing, and to look in particular at mobile homes, group homes, manufactured homes, in-law apartments, and first-time homebuyers using state and federal assistance programs.

“I am fully aware that allowing the inclusion of mobile homes presents some unique challenges, and that is why I feel that this special Commission is warranted,” said Rep. Gifford. “With over a thousand mobile homes in Wareham and approximately 1,200 in Carver, we deserve the opportunity to have this discussion, and this special Commission would allow the conversation of Chapter 40B reform to come forward, something that is long overdue.”

Gifford first filed legislation related to Chapter 40B in 2003 because she said towns in her district were “facing a growing crisis of not being able to control their own destiny.”

The most recent data on affordable housing in Wareham that is readily available is from 2013. Then, Wareham had 9,880 year-round housing units, and 757 of those, or 7.66 percent, were designated to be affordable. Wareham’s more than 1,000 affordable housing units would almost certainly put the town ahead of the ten percent requirement, even though the overall housing stock has increased since 2013.