Recently Senator Sal DiDomenico spoke on the floor of the Massachusetts Senate in support of the reauthorization of the Early Education and Out of School Time (EEOST) Capital Fund. The reauthorization of this fund was included as part of the Housing Bond Bill that was passed by the Massachusetts Senate last week. Senator DiDomenico was the original sponsor of legislation that created the $45 million EEOST Capital Fund, which provides loans and grants to early learning centers and out-of-school-time programs predominately serving low-income families to support major renovation and construction projects.
In 2013, Governor Deval Patrick signed Senator DiDomenico’s bill into law as part of a five-year housing and community development bond bill. For the first time, this fund affirmed the positive impact that high-quality early education makes in children’s lives and in the economic development of the Commonwealth. Over the years, the EEOST capital fund has continually been included in subsequent bond bills, and has helped to transform old facilities and substandard spaces into safe and developmentally-appropriate learning environments, while also creating jobs in both the education and construction industries.
“The establishment of the EEOST Capital Fund is one of my proudest achievements as a State Senator, and it was a pleasure to once again advocate for the reauthorization of this capital fund, this time as part of the Housing Bond Bill,” said DiDomenico. “As a Commonwealth, we must understand and respond to the link between housing and childhood health, as it has been well documented that environment influences the architecture of a child’s developing brain. Many of our young children spend over 40 hours a week in early learning or afterschool settings, and this capital fund helps to ensure that more of them have access to the learning environments that they need and deserve.”
To date, the impact of the fund has been significant:
- Over 20 projects have been funded throughout the state, increasing capacity by adding almost 450 slots to the early education and care system.
- The quality of learning environments has been improved for over 2,000 kids.
- 34 full-time educator jobs and 360 construction jobs have been created.
- Over $44M in additional investment from foundations, banks and other sources has been leveraged.
In addition to the EEOST Capital Fund, the Housing Bond Bill authorizes a total of $1.8 billion in investments for the preservation and production of affordable housing across the Commonwealth. Additional authorizations in the Housing Bond Bill include the following:
- $600M for the modernization and redevelopment of the state’s public housing stock;
- $400M for the development and preservation of affordable and mixed-income housing;
- $125M for the preservation and improvement of existing and expiring use affordable housing;
- $100M for the preservation and development of workforce housing;
- $65M for community-based housing for individuals living with mental illness or disabilities;
- $60M for home modification for elderly residents and those living with severe disabilities; and
- $50M to incentivize smart growth production and transit-oriented developments.
The bill also extends and expands critical tax credits dedicated to incentivizing the development and modernization of the Commonwealth’s housing stock.
The bill will now be reconciled with a version passed by the House of Representatives.