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Community Preservation Act

The Community Preservation Act (CPA) is a flexible tool that helps communities preserve open space, historic resources, and affordable housing. CPA funds can support planning and pre-development activities, but can also directly fund the construction of housing for households and individuals earning up to 100% of the area median income. CPA allows communities to adopt a local property tax surcharge for funding open space, historic preservation, affordable housing, and outdoor recreational facilities. The surcharge can range anywhere from 0.5% to 3%. Municipalities can exempt low- and moderate-income households and/or commercial properties. The funds go into a local community preservation fund and the state provides matching funds from its own Community Preservation Trust Fund.

Communities are required to allocate at least 10% of funds raised each year to each of the 3 categories - open space, historic preservation, and affordable housing. The remaining 70% may be allocated among any of the categories and also recreation. CPA funds can be used for a wide range of housing purposes, making it a valuable resource for communities at all stages of addressing their housing needs, from developing initial strategies to creating programs and preserving existing developments. CPA offers local control, flexibility, and fairly simple administration and can be used to combine housing activities with open space and/or historic preservation activities. The Community Preservation Coalition offers extensive free help to communities using or considering CPA. For examples and more information about the Community Preservation Act, check out the Massachusetts Housing Partnership's CPA guidebook.