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GA Blog: Housing

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1.29.20 Housing Lynn

This week, the first Housing Lynn public forum was held.  Housing Lynn is an initiative, in partnership with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), to develop a Housing Production Plan to guide the future development of the city.  The initiative will stretch through most of 2020 and centers around a community-driven process to understand Lynn’s housing needs.

This event comes on the heels of the Lynn City Summit held in November, where Housing was also a major topic.

During the conversation community leaders and community members spoke to what they saw as the housing crisis in Lynn. Rising rents, the shortage of inventory, and luxury development were among the discussion topics.

Two more public forums will be held in the Spring and the Fall.  For more information and quotes from the event click here.

 

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12.20.19 Housing Choice Moves Out of Committee

Yesterday, the Housing Committee voted 16-1 to favorably recommend Governor Baker’s Housing Choice Bill out of committee.  This is a strong move forward for the bill that had been in committee for some time. 

Speaker DeLeo indicated that this favorable recommendation is not a sign that an agreement has been reached on the issue.  Chair of the Housing Committee Rep. Kevin Honan said the goal is to vote on the bill sometime in 2020.

MAR has supported the Governor’s Housing Choice Bill since its introduction.  A highlight of the bill is the reduction on the required votes to pass certain zoning changes from a super majority of 66% to a simple majority at 50%.  On the North Shore, there have been several recent votes of the Salem City Council that would have passed if the Housing Choice Bill was in place but did not reach the supermajority threshold.

You can read more about what state legislators are saying here in CommonWealth Magazine.

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10.9.19 $43 Million in HUD Housing Grants Awarded

Last week The US Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded 43 million dollars in housing counseling grants to organizations around the country.  A total of $3,925,924 was awarded to 8 different Massachusetts organizations, almost 10% of the national total.

The Housing Grants were given as direct support to housing counseling services.  These services include assisting homebuyers in preparing for a home purchase, assistance with affordable rental housing, financial literacy training, and foreclosure prevention.

Preference was given to those looking to provide counseling within Opportunity Zones.  Nationally nearly half of the organizations fell under this description and 75% of the Massachusetts organizations are set to provide housing counseling within Opportunity Zones.

You can find the press release direct from HUD here.

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10.9.19 Draft of 5 Year Housing Production Plan to be Presented to City Council

 

Peabody’s latest 5-Year Housing Production Plan is set to go before the City Council.  A vote will be taken at a later date after the presentation is made.

One of the focuses of the plan is affordable housing. Peabody only has 9.27% of its housing units considered as Subsidized Housing Inventory (SHI), of which 78% are rentals and only 2% are ownership units.  This would allow a developer to utilize 40B, a state law which overrides local zoning for the construction of affordable housing.

The plan also notes a growing gap between incomes and housing costs.  The average median household income has only risen around $400 between 2010 and 2017.  In turn the median home value has increased $106,000.  Noting a priority need is more starter homes and options for downsizing

Some strategies, characterized in the plan as preferred by the municipality, include modifying its FALA ordinance (Accessory Dwelling Units), pursuing a 40R/40S smart growth overlay district, the promotion of nontraditional housing models, and changes to the cluster development ordinance among others.

NSAR will be watching for developments and opportunities to comment moving forward.  You can find more information on the plan and the plan itself here.

 

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7.19.19 Governor Baker Announces 2019 Affordable Rental Housing Awards

On July 18th in Swampscott, the 2019 Affordable Rental Housing Awards where announced by Governor Baker.  The North Shore was very well represented with four local recipients. The awards in total consist of nearly $80 million in direct subsidies and $38 million in Low Income Housing Tax Credits to fund the development, renovation, and preservation of housing opportunities throughout Massachusetts. 

 

The four local winners are:  Cabot Street in Beverly, which will construct 24 new units as well as rehabilitating 45 existing units.  All of these units will be restricted to individuals earning less than 60% of the area median income.  Harbor Village in Gloucester will be a mixed-use project consisting of a commercial ground level and 30 new units which will be restricted to 60% of area median income.  The Tannery in Peabody is a preservation project.  When the rehab is completed there will be 200 units reserved for those earning less than 60% of area median income and 35 units for those earning less than 30% of area median income.  Finally, The Senior Residences at The Machon in Swampscott is a redevelopment project of an elementary school for senior citizens.  There will be 38 units available for seniors earning less than 60% of the area median income and 8 more units for seniors earning less than 30% of the area median income.

 

You can find the state house’s official press release here.

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7.17.19 Peabody’s 25% Affordable Housing Requirement Lowered to 20%

 

In April, it was voted by City Council to create a requirement of 25% affordable housing units for large developments.  At the same time the building height allowance was also raised to 5 floors.

After just 12 weeks those numbers have been voted to come back down.  First, the building height allowance was taken to 4 floors instead of 5.  Then on July 11th the Industrial & Community Development Committee, a sub-committee of the City Council, unanimously voted to lower the affordable housing percentage from 25% to 20%.

Curt Bellavance, the Community Development director, is quoted as saying: “We are looking for a compromise to get it to 20 percent” referring to the original 15% sought by the city and the 25% decision of the council.

The revised rule will go to the Planning Board and then to a public hearing from there.

Read the full coverage of before and after this decision in the Item here and here.

 

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