State Representative McGonagle’s Speech in Support of Housing Bond Bill

State Representative Joseph McGonagle (D-Everett) was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 2014 represenFeb 15_State Repting the 28th Middlesex District. He is currently serving his second term.

McGonagle serves as Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Housing. He is also a member of the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs, The Joint Committee on Election Laws, the Joint Committee on Transportation, the Joint Committee on Ways and Means, and the House Committee on Ways and Means.

Prior to his election, Representative McGonagle served several terms on the Everett Board of Aldermen and Everett City Council.

On Wednesday, January 24. Representative McGonagle gave his maiden speech before a formal session of the House of Representatives during debate on the $1.7B Housing Bond Bill. This piece of legislation will affect Everett and every other community in the Commonwealth.

The bill will provide housing for seniors, veterans, the disabled, and families. Representative McGonagle worked closely with Mayor Carlo DeMaria and his administration to identify the specific housing needs in Everett. Speaking in support of the bill, Representative McGonagle noted that passage will go a long way toward addressing a basic human necessity – housing. The measure has passed the House and has moved on to the Senate.

Here is the text of Representative McGonagle’s maiden speech:

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and through you to the members.

I come from a very different background than most of you. I never saw the House Chamber until I was elected. Mr. Speaker, I actually had to take the State House Tour to find out where your office was!

When I first walked into this Chamber two things struck me:

• I hope my Mom and Dad are proud of me.

• And, I hope that I can live up to the legacy of Speaker Keverian, Representative Ed Connolly, and those before them and earn the trust and confidence that the people of Everett have placed in me.

When we met, Mr. Speaker, I was overwhelmed but you made me feel welcomed and gave me confidence. You gave me advice and offered kind words for which I am forever grateful.

Please bear with me. There are just a few more people I’d like to thank.

I’d like to thank our Majority Leader, the gentleman from Quincy, for his words of wisdom the first time I met him. Do you remember those words Mr. Leader?

For those of you who know the Majority Leader, you know that I can never share those words with you or repeat them in public. But thank you just the same, Mr. Leader.

As many of you know, Everett has a strong tradition of leading the House. Speaker Keverian held that Honor for six years.

I would like to thank the Assistant Majority Leader, the gentleman from Medford, who gave me this honor for six minutes in an Informal Session. Everybody gets three minutes of fame in their life, mine was six minutes. So, I’ll take it!

Some colleagues when they found out about my fame, joked on Twitter – “God help the Commonwealth.” I know who you are!

And finally, on a more serious note, I would like to thank the gentleman from Brighton, our Housing Chair, for his guidance and advice and for giving me the opportunity to address you as Vice Chair and speak to you on such an important piece of legislation.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Speaker, since my first day in office, the most important issue I have faced has been housing. This Housing Bond Bill is one of the most impactful pieces of legislation for our city and Commonwealth right now. In Everett, we are doing everything we can to provide housing, specifically affordable housing. But, we cannot do it alone.

Because of the high costs of acquisition and construction and the difficulty of financing affordable developments, we need funded State initiatives in combination with Federal incentives in order to get these projects built.

I recently returned from a trip to Haiti. Each year I travel there with Rev. Mimi and Pastor Paul. We bring school supplies, donated clothing, and even wedding dresses so families can dress up and celebrate one of the most important days that families share.

We are in the process of building a bread factory, something so many of us take for granted. And I have witnessed tens of thousands of men, women, and children living with very little shelter or no shelter at all.

I relate this to our own work here in Massachusetts because so many families are struggling to make ends meet and afford a stable place to live — a place to call home.

Shelter is one of the most basic needs of human beings. We hear charity begins at home, home is where the heart is, home sweet home. Clichés maybe, but they are true nonetheless.

We hear the statistics and studies calling for the need for affordable housing, third most expensive housing market, housing shortage, lack of housing will create a drag on the economy – all true. But I choose to simplify things and look at issues with common sense. Home is the heart and soul of the family, whether it is a house, condo or apartment. Whether occupied by a senior citizen, empty-nester, a veteran, a growing family, or an immigrant from Haiti. Everyone deserves a roof over their head. And we must act.

This Housing Bond Bill contains so many opportunities to help our communities build the kind of housing stock that we need to benefit all of our residents and continue to grow our economy. This bill takes a giant step in turning “someone should do something about this” into “someone is doing something about this”.

That, Mr. Speaker, is why I rise in support of this bill. I ask my colleagues to join me in doing something that makes having a roof over your head and a place to call home, affordable, attainable, and a reality for all.

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