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Mass. statehouse panel Oks affordable housing bill

BOSTON (AP) -- A bill designed to expand and preserve affordable housing in Massachusetts is making its way through the Statehouse.

The Legislature's Joint Committee on Housing has advanced a five-year, $1.4 billion housing bond bill. The legislation would provide additional authorization for housing programs for low-income and moderate-income residents across the state.

The bill includes $500 million to help modernize existing public housing developments and $80 million in grants and loans for a fund that provides supportive housing for the homeless, victims of domestic violence, seniors, veterans and individuals recovering from substance abuse.

Another $55 million in the bill would help blind and severely disabled homeowners modify their homes to avoid placement into more costly institutional settings such as nursing homes.

The bill now heads to House and Senate lawmakers for debate.