STATE CAPITOL BRIEFS - LUNCH EDITION - TUESDAY, MARCH 25, 2014

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

FEWER CHOICES IN MASS. HOME SALES MARKET

The inventory of homes for sale in Massachusetts has fallen in each month for the past two years, dropping to 3.7 months of supply in February, according to the Massachusetts Association of Realtors. Condos on the market are also down, with 2.5 months of supply available. "Even with the continued increase in home values, sellers are taking longer than normal to enter the market so far in 2014," association president Peter Ruffini, regional vice president at Jack Conway & Co., in Norwell, said in a statement. "The winter weather hasn't deterred buyers, but the lack of homes for sale over the past several months resulted in a drop in closed sales in February." Properties on the market are selling more quickly than a year ago. Detached single-family homes stayed on the market an average of 122 days in February, compared to an average of 141 days in February 2013, the association reported. Condos stayed on the market an average of 96 days, down from an average of 122 days in February 2013. Sales last month were down almost 6 percent from February 2013. The median selling price for single-family home in February was $294,950, up 7.3 percent from $275,000 in February 2013 and marking 17 consecutive months of year-over-year increases. The median selling price for a condo in February was $283,000 and condo sales over the year were up 1 percent. - M.


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Norton/SHNS

CHAIRS MEET, NO ACCORD REACHED ON CHARTER CAP

Facing their second deadline in a week, the chairs of the Education Committee met Tuesday morning but emerged without an agreement on how to proceed with legislation to lift the cap on charter school enrollment. Rep. Alice Peisch, the House co-chair of the committee, told the News Service that no decisions have been made about charter schools, but said that her opposition to a proposed compromise offered by Senate chair Sonia Chang-Diaz and Rep. Russell Holmes linking a cap lift to state reimbursement funding for public school districts had not changed. The committee has until midnight to report out a bill. Failure to act would send legislation to the full House with an adverse recommendation, creating a new set of procedural hurdles should House and Senate leaders decide they want to act on a bill at a later date. "Until we reach the end, I do hold out hope," Peisch said. Peisch said her meeting with Chang-Diaz in the senator's office was not solely about the charter school issue. "This isn't the only bill that we need to work on," Peisch said. Having not previously scheduled a committee meeting to consider possible legislation, the Education Committee will not formally meet on Tuesday, but the chairs could decide to electronically poll members on bills before the midnight deadline. - M. Murphy, C. Quinn/SHNS

STATE TO MEET SUPPORTIVE HOUSING GOAL

Gov. Deval Patrick plans announce more than $25 million in state funding to create more than 335 units of housing for veterans, homeless individuals and very low-income families that the administration says will allow the state to meet its goal of 1,000 news units of supportive housing a year early. Patrick is scheduled Tuesday afternoon to visit the site of the Haverhill Veterans' House Project where he will also award 208 new housing vouchers through the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program to owners of existing affordable rental properties who provide services to tenants to help stabilize family living situations. Supportive housing programs are designed to help the homeless, those at risk of becoming homeless or institutionalized, and the elderly and those with disabilities. In addition to having an affordable housing option, tenants in supportive housing have access through a network on non-profits to services such as child care, job training, mental health care and other opportunities. Patrick set a goal in December 2012 of creating 1,000 new units of supportive housing across the state by December 2015. The 16 new projects to be announced on Tuesday are to be located in Bedford, Dorchester, Boston's Bay Village neighborhood, downtown Boston on Court Street, Brockton, Brookline, Chelsea, Haverhill, Lowell, Oxford, Springfield, Westfield and Worcester. - M. Murphy/SHNS