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A new housing law is the reason behind all the new apartments in Fall River. Here’s what you need to know.



Cordeiro Properties Thomas Edison Light Station 60 Hartwell Street

With all of the new apartments popping up around Fall River, many people are wondering why the surge in rentals. But it isn’t a coincidence that just as the new South Coast Rail is almost ready to get moving that the rise in new apartments has hit Fall River.

A law passed in 2021, known as Section 3A, has actually forced communities that are rail adjacent to add multi-family units to their communities. Section 3A under the Massachusetts Zoning Act is also known as the MBTA Communities Law. Part of the Economic Development Bill, the law requires that if your community has access to the MBTA transit, they must create a zoning district or districts where multi-family housing will be built within a half mile of the rail, without any special permits.

Each rail community has been given a number of multi-family units that they must produce and with it, a deadline. Surprisingly, cities like Fall River and New Bedford, who each have to add over 6,000 units to their cities, have a looming deadline of December 31st of this year. Other communities have until next year, but there is no way to avoid meeting these state enforced goals and deadlines.

Yesterday, Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Campbell appointed Esme Caramello to head up the new Housing Affordability Unit. Her main job? To make sure all communities are following all state housing laws and meeting the Section 3A deadline. Caramello was recently the director of Harvard Law School’s legal aid organization.

But what happens if a city or town fails to meet these hefty apartment guidelines set by the state? The answer is simple: the state will withhold additional funding. If a community does not comply with Section 3A requirements, they will be deemed ineligible for funding for the following sources:

  • Community Planning Grants, EOHLC
  • Massachusetts Downtown Initiative, EOED
  • Urban Agenda, EOED
  • Rural and Small Town Development Fund, EOED
  • Brownfields Redevelopment Fund, MassDevelopment
  • Site Readiness Program, MassDevelopment
  • Underutilized Properties Program, MassDevelopment
  • Collaborative Workspace Program, MassDevelopment
  • Real Estate Services Technical Assistance, MassDevelopment
  • Commonwealth Places Programs, MassDevelopment
  • Land Use Planning Grants, EOEEA
  • Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity (LAND) Grants, EOEEA, and
  • Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Planning and Project Grants, EOEEA

Other funding sources and grants can also be limited for those not complying with Section 3A.

The town of Milton has not met their state-imposed deadline and has lost access to over 10 grant programs funded by the state. Despite their deadline being the end of this year, the state as already found them to have violated Section 3A for not submitting an action plan on how to meet the 3A required units.

Let’s take a look at the surrounding cities and towns and see what the Section 3A law is requiring as far as the number of units and expected deadline to achieve them. Where does your community stand?


Fall River
New Bedford

Primary correspondent for the Greater Fall River area, Jess focuses on human interest stories and investigations into political corruption. She is a former fill-in host and digital contributor at The Howie Carr Show, former host of The Jessica Machado Show and SouthCoast Tonight on WBSM in New Bedford, former blogger at The Herald News and a former fill-in host at WSAR in Fall River.



  1. Joe Carvalho

    May 29, 2024 at 11:28 am
    The above linked Planning Board meeting is significant because of the remarks made by Ken Fiola relevant to “family housing, affordable housing, subsidized housing and Section 8 certicates”. Pay attention to his response regarding what developers need to do to receive the two million dollars in tax credits for creating market rate housing units. Believe it or not or not , the very same Ken Fiola was named to a Transition Committee by then Governor-Elect Healey and that Committee was titled “Affordable & Abundant Housing”! How in the world does someone who makes comments about Affordable housing as he did at the Planning Board meeting ever named to any Committee with the words “Affordable Housing” in their mandate? I sent the video to the Governor-Elect and sent her an email with my concerns about Mr. Fiola being named to the Transition Committee and have yet to receive a response!

    • Michael Arruda

      May 29, 2024 at 2:43 pm

      Joe, you never will receive a response. How can government force new buildings to be built? How can they use tax dollars against it’s citizens? This is pure communism, and the people will roll over.

      • Joe Carvalho

        May 29, 2024 at 4:09 pm

        Hello Michael,
        I’m not sure about the “communism” remark, but as I am sure you’re aware of the rents going through the roof and Triple Deckers that have been owned for generations by one family now sold for inflated prices to unscrupulous developers who then have no alternative to raising the rents given the astronomical mortgages and as a result, renters being forced out with some becoming homeless. In a one party state such as this, and trust me I am not nor will I ever be a Republican or even a Democrat being a proud Green-Rainbow Party member for decades, we, as a result, do not have a representative form of government when the power is in the hands of a single entity. Republican governor’s did nothing for Fall River, rightfully feeling that even if they did, they’d never get our votes and conversely, Democratic governor’s never needed to do anything and yet were guaranteed the vote. I’m interested in your referencing your “communism” and really would like you to elaborate. Thanks Michael.

    • Paul

      May 31, 2024 at 12:39 pm

      Are Market and Affordable the same. Very difficult to get clear answers.

      • Ken Paiva

        May 31, 2024 at 12:56 pm

        They are not. Market rate means the going rate or usual rate.

  2. J R

    May 29, 2024 at 4:44 pm

    I agree with Michael we are going in the wrong direction. We are losing our Humanity for all . If this isn’t control then what do you call it? Take a good look at our history the lives lost and what our country should be about. Has the power of Those in business and government lost themselves to greed and tyranny? Can they not see the destruction of their own citizens who have suffered, struggled to keep a roof over their heads and their families dreams alive. For this result we now fface the fear of losing our homes our health and for what? What gains and for who not the working poor or the ill right. Progress or destruction?

  3. Debra Machado

    May 29, 2024 at 5:03 pm

    What does this actually mean. Seems like some favoritism and double talk. School me, cause I don’t know what this is about

  4. Debra machado

    May 29, 2024 at 5:13 pm

    I agree with JR and Joe Carvalho.
    We are headed for more homeless, depression with families that can’t afford high rents.
    Greed vs humanity.

  5. Gary Dunn

    May 29, 2024 at 5:33 pm

    I’ve said it for years they ought to look into the fiolas but everybody keeps on turning their heads they’ve made a fortune in this city definitely not helping the people just patting their pockets and people down North just keep voting for her also terrible please vote red down North please

  6. Hi

    May 29, 2024 at 5:35 pm

    Well this explains why fall river has become so trashy. Over population= high crime. I used to love fall river the people use to take such pride even to the point of sweeping the sidewalks. Now it just needs to be burnt to the ground.

  7. Barrack Warren

    May 29, 2024 at 5:52 pm

    Ken Fiola is a tremendous asset to Fall River and has done more to better our city than almost anyone out there.

    I am hopeful that Gov Healy will follow through on her promise to allot at least 20% of the new housing units to newly arrived Americans.

    • Joe Carvalho

      May 29, 2024 at 7:00 pm

      Did you even bother to view the link to the Planning Board meeting held on August 10th, 2022 and listen to his insulting and disparaging remarks regarding subsidized housing, Section 8 Certicates and how market rate housing developers should hire “a good consultant” to insure they receive the 2 million dollars in tax credits from the state, spoken as the vice president of the Bristol County Economic Development Consultants! Some folks have no shame!

      • LNG

        May 30, 2024 at 5:28 pm


        You should be cleaning up that firetrap of a house of yours instead of pointing fingers. Slumlords like you are the problem.

    • Hi

      May 30, 2024 at 7:38 am

      Well thank you for letting everyone know why the city looks like shit or at least who to blame. As for Healey that scumbag needs to crawl back to hell where she came from.

    • Diana Farias

      May 30, 2024 at 1:12 pm

      “Newly Arrived Americans “???

    • Chickie

      May 30, 2024 at 8:22 pm

      Please.people,pay attention to what happening complain to your city council, and mayor we deserve to live in safe neighborhoods ,and having police patrol our neighborhood we pay our taxes keep our sidewalk shoveled,and keep our neighborhood clean

  8. Dianne Matthews

    May 30, 2024 at 10:39 am

    Dianne Matthews
    It’s no coincidence that this is happening. I can almost guarantee the lower rent apts.wont be for veterans,or other Americans who are homeless. So 3a was made a law,and apt owners get $2,000,000 for doing what gov.wants. we had 22,000,000 people in this country who freely walked through the border with no attention paid to the naturalization process. There’s no conscience left here.

  9. Jaylyne

    May 30, 2024 at 10:59 am

    But all over the country there has been ongoing development not just in Massachusetts. If we don’t keep building then property taxes and rents will remain high, the same for mortgage rates. I get it no one wants these in their communities but do you wanna keep paying more in the end? The zoning laws that were implemented 75 years ago prevented more multifamily housing to be developed because nobody wanted minorities nor rich folks in their communities. Do I feel this is communism from the politicians enforcing this yes in some way but supply and demand are an issue all over the country.I still live and grew up on the South End of Boston. It has been changing just like Southie but, again what made people in suburbia think this was never going to happen? The suburbs will become mini cities on their own while Bodyon and Worcester become mega cities.

  10. Get them out

    May 30, 2024 at 1:05 pm


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