In the wealthy Boston suburbs, housing prices and rent are rising sharply, affordable housing is difficult to find, traffic is a nightmare, and the city is overcrowded. But travel west and the picture is completely different. Housing prices are among the lowest in the state, cost of living is much lower, and there are great open spaces and incredible cultural assets. However, because Western Massachusetts has a graying population, the region’s population growth is slowly declining, and this decline has presented a self-reinforcing cycle of challenges - not enough jobs causes many of the area’s young people to leave, which causes a decline in school enrollments, leading to less state aid and fewer workers to support the region’s businesses.
My bill creates a pilot grant program that incentivizes workers to relocate to Western MA, allocating $1 million in a three-year incentives period to eligible new citizens on a first come first served basis. These grants will fund the relocation expenses of remote workers and telecommuters who move to Hampshire, Hampden, Franklin or Berkshire County. The purpose of the grant is to help offset the cost of moving, including buying computer software and hardware, obtaining or increasing broadband access, and/or establishing membership in a co-working office space. Qualified remote workers that are eligible for reimbursement would receive a maximum of $5,000 per year, and a total maximum of $10,000 per worker over the life of the program.