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The 192nd General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Section 3: Powers and duties

Section 3. The department shall be the principal agency of the government of the commonwealth to: mobilize the human, physical and financial resources available to combat poverty and provide economic training and open housing opportunity, including, but not limited to, opportunities for residents of depressed and slum areas; review and coordinate the activities of agencies of the commonwealth as those activities relate to emergency and transitional housing; provide opportunities for volunteer services in meeting human critical needs; training and educational aid for citizens of the commonwealth to choose and prepare themselves for careers of public service; the department shall cooperate with and render advice and counsel to local, commonwealth and federal agencies engaged in activities designed to further said objectives; shall encourage and assist communities in the development, renewal and rehabilitation of their physical environment; shall fund and advance the programs of open and adequate housing for all citizens of the commonwealth, including those displaced by public action within the commonwealth; and shall assist in the full utilization of open space and conservation resources of the commonwealth.

To accomplish the objectives set forth above, the department is hereby authorized, empowered and directed to:

(a) provide assistance to communities in solving local problems, including, but not limited to, problems in planning, zoning, housing and development;

(b) facilitate communications and the free flow of information between communities and the officers, agencies and employees of the commonwealth;

(c) encourage and assist local governments to cooperate in seeking mutual solutions to common problems, including, but not limited to, action through metropolitan or regional agencies or associations;

(d) provide and act as a clearing house for information, data and other materials useful to local governments and regional agencies;

(e) initiate and carry out studies and analyses which will aid in solving local and regional problems;

(f) coordinate through advice and counsel, and provide information which will assist in such coordination for those programs of other state agencies designed to assist in the solution of local problems;

(g) assist local governments in their relations with state and federal agencies and programs, and participate directly, when requested by any community, in any matters involving action or proposed action of an agency of the commonwealth directly affecting such community;

(h) advise and inform the governor on the affairs and problems of local government and make recommendations, including draft legislation, pertaining thereto;

(i) discharge the duties imposed on it by or pursuant to law in the fields of housing, urban renewal, relocation, housing code enforcement, model cities, new towns, local and regional planning, aging, housing for the handicapped, economic opportunity, and training personnel for community development; provided, however, that nothing in this subparagraph shall be construed in limitation of the other powers and duties of the department;

(j) further the cooperation of local, state, federal and private agencies and institutions with respect to programs affecting community development;

(k) represent and act on behalf of the commonwealth in connection with federal grant programs applicable to programs of community development in the functional areas described in clause (i) when requested by any community to act on a specific grant application;

(l) seek, accept and otherwise take full advantage of all federal aid available to the department and to assist other agencies of the commonwealth and local agencies to take full advantage of all federal grants and subventions available for community development;

(m) render advice and assistance to communities in the preparation and review of ordinances and charters, including assistance to charter commissions established under the provisions of chapter forty-three B;

(n) establish, conduct and maintain a program of municipal professional personnel training for local governmental officials and personnel, including, but not limited to, the fields of municipal finance, engineering, fire, housing, urban renewal, planning, inspectors, public works, health, solid waste disposal, parks, recreation, sewer and water;

(o) formulate in cooperation with related state agencies and submit to the governor and the general court on or before December 4, 1970 and from time to time thereafter on a biannual basis a Model Housing Code, and Model Zoning Codes for communities of various populations. The model codes shall be complete in every regard and take advantage of recommendations available from federal agencies and other national organizations. The department shall, in coordination with other state agencies and upon the request of any community, advise and aid communities in the enforcement of the Housing Code pursuant to law;

(p) review and coordinate those activities of agencies of the commonwealth and of any political subdivision of the commonwealth at the request of such subdivision, which affect the full and fair utilization of human resources, and initiate programs which will help assure such utilization;

(q) formulate and submit to the governor and the general court on or before December 4, 1970, a comprehensive housing-for-the-elderly program and matters relating thereto, including, but not limited to, the identification of elderly housing needs, locational and financial requirements;

(r) formulate and submit annually to the governor and the general court beginning on or before December 4, 1970, a Five-Year comprehensive housing program for low and moderate income families, including, but not limited to: the establishment of the number of units required; the geographic distribution among the municipalities of the commonwealth in specific conformance with commonwealth and federal open housing laws; recognition of needed social, education, and health services and work opportunities; recognition of specific housing needs for persons displaced by public action; recommendations for local, commonwealth and federal programs for the acquisition and sale or rent of one-, two- and three-family-unit structures; and of a housing financing program for low and moderate income families incorporating recommendations for federal, commonwealth, municipal and private financial loan and grant participation for implementation of land and building acquisition, construction, maintenance, rehabilitation, leased housing, and rent supplementation; provided, however, that no regulation promulgated by the department of housing and community development which concerns tenant selection in state aided housing shall supercede the tenant selection requirements outlined in sections thirty-two and thirty-four of chapter one hundred and twenty-one B as they relate to local preference, emergency cases, or veterans preference;

(s) formulate in cooperation with related state agencies and submit annually to the governor and the general court beginning on or before December 4, 1970 and from time to time thereafter biannually a five-year Community and Environmental Development Program, including, but not limited to: establishment of the number and location of areas requiring conservation, rehabilitation or renewal; recommendations regarding the need and priority for area improvements involving sewer, water, parks, public safety, urban beautification, solid waste, health welfare education and recreation centers, traffic and public works; establishment of unified code enforcement personnel training and evaluation procedures; and establishment of a financial program which shall identify the required proportionate participation by federal agencies, commonwealth, and municipalities, and which shall give consideration to the commonwealth contributing one half of the nonfederal share;

(t) shall assist to the fullest extent the Massachusetts commission against discrimination in carrying out its powers and duties under chapter one hundred and fifty-one B;

(u) establish, conduct and maintain a program of pet ownership by elderly residents of state-aided public housing for the elderly;

(v) adopt a qualified allocation plan and regulations pursuant thereto for the federal low-income housing tax credit as provided for in Section 42 of the Internal Revenue Code as amended and in effect for the taxable year, and the Massachusetts low-income housing tax credit as established under section 6I of chapter 62 and section 31H of chapter 63. Such plan may give preference to qualified Massachusetts projects which serve the lowest income tenants at rents affordable to those tenants and which are obligated to serve qualified tenants for the longest period.

In order to assist in the discharge of its duties, the department is hereby empowered to request from any agency of the commonwealth such available information as the department shall deem pertinent to local affairs and problems, and to request from any political subdivision of the commonwealth currently existing zoning maps of any community and notification of all zoning changes, and such agency or political subdivision shall comply with such request.

An information copy of each application for federal grant or loan for the purposes of any community development program submitted to the federal government by any community shall be filed with the department of housing and community development not later than the tenth day after such submission thereof.