Now comes the hard part: Moving it from paper to action

Arthur Winn and Governor Baker

Without much fanfare, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker created the Workforce Housing Production Trust Fund as part of the state’s fiscal 2017 Economic Development Bill.

It took many months of research and discussions to persuade legislative leaders and the Baker administration to embrace this concept. Creating a new kind of housing subsidy is a complex undertaking and there are many competing needs. Many housing advocates participated in the effort to educate end inform on this issue, but I am most proud of the instrumental role played by WinnCompanies, specifically WinnDevelopment President Larry Curtis, my longtime friend and business partner.

The legislation signed by Gov. Baker endorses the concept of the Trust Fund and gives it a name, an important milestone but only but only a symbolic first step. The regulations that will provide the framework for implementation must be drafted. A source or sources of funding — the initial deposit is $25 million — also must be identified, which is not easy given the competing needs when it comes to state finances. And, not in the least, the program has to be seen as one that generates demand in addressing the critical need for workforce housing in our state.

With continued hard work, education and some luck, the Trust Fund could become a model for other states, demonstrating how an investment in workforce housing communities yields strong economic and social returns.