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About Us

The MA Toolkit is a project of Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association and the Massachusetts Housing Partnership in partnership with the Center for Housing Policy.
Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association is the largest non-profit organization for affordable housing and community development activities in the state representing all interests in the housing field:   non-profit and for-profit developers, homeowners, tenants, bankers, real estate brokers, property managers, government officials, and others.  Established in 1967, CHAPA’s mission is to encourage the production and preservation of housing that is affordable to low and moderate income families and individuals and to foster diverse and sustainable communities through planning and community development.  It pursues its goals through advocacy with local, state and federal officials; research on affordable housing issues; education and training for organizations and individuals; and coalition and consensus building among broad interests in the field.  CHAPA’s education and training are designed to increase information-sharing among diverse sectors in the housing field and to build the capacity of organizations and agencies that develop and manage low income housing.

The Massachusetts Housing Partnership (MHP) is a self-supporting public non-profit organization that works with state government and with business, civic and community leaders to increase the supply of affordable housing across the Commonwealth. MHP uses funds from the banking industry due to a 1990 state law that requires companies that purchase Massachusetts banks to make funds available to MHP. Since then, MHP’s loan pool has grown to over $1.1 billion and it has provided over $745 million in loans and commitments for the financing of 17,742 units of rental housing. MHP also supports communities and nonprofits in their efforts to build affordable housing and offers the SoftSecond Loan Program, which has helped over 15,000 lower-income families buy their first home.


The authors wish to express their sincere gratitude for the use of materials prepared by California’s Institute for Local Government and the North Carolina Housing Coalition, two of the country’s leading affordable housing advocates.  For information about these organizations and complete text of the documents used, please follow the links below:

Building Support for Affordable Housing: A Toolbox for California Officials, by the Institute of Local Government.  Used with permission.

Critical Information on the Issue of Affordable Housing and Overcoming the Challenges of Nimbyism, by the North Carolina Housing Coalition.  Used with permission. 


There are several things you should keep in mind as you use the MA Toolbox:
  1. Not all the approaches will be appropriate to your circumstances.  Be clear about what you wish to accomplish, select the most appropriate tool(s), and make sure you know how to use them correctly.
  2. Having proper tools and adequate resources can enable you to carry out your community’s affordable housing strategy, but they are not a substitute for the preliminary tasks of planning that strategy and marshaling support for its implementation.
  3. While there are many tools and techniques available, few provide financial resources sufficient to produce housing at a cost that low, or even moderate income, households can afford.  Producing affordable housing almost always requires a combination of strategies and resources.
  4. This guide does not constitute legal or financial advice.  You will need to consult with your professional partners - architects, consultants, attorneys, developers, lenders and funding agencies – on your specific plans/projects/strategies.
In fact, most of the examples included in this publication utilized a combination of strategies—town-owned land, expedited permitting, local nonprofit developer, alternative financing, grants, zoning incentives, tax relief—and as a result, exemplify more than one approach.  We have exercised a certain amount of editorial license in assigning them to one or another of the often- overlapping categories, and encourage the reader to explore all of them.

The communities cited as examples in this on-line guide are by no means the only ones addressing their housing needs in creative ways.  They were not even selected as having been the most successful.  Some of the approaches have fallen short of expectations; others represent works in progress.  They were included because we believe other communities can learn from their experiences.

Please visit the Contact Us page to notify us of any inaccuracies or errors found, as well as any additions or examples you would recommend that we add.