LWV OBSERVER REPORT: Joint meeting on affordable housing, June 27

Marblehead League of Women Voters Observer Corps
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Observer Corps Reports are provided by volunteers from the Marblehead League of Women Voters. To learn more about the League and its activities, see my.lwv.org/massachusetts/marblehead.

BOARDS: Housing Production Plan Implementation Committee and Fair Housing Committee

DATE: June 27 (hybrid meeting, not recorded)

LWVM OBSERVER: Bonnie Grenier

MEMBERS IN ATTENDANCE: Erin Noonan, Thatcher Kezer, Becky Curran Cutting, Kurt James, Dirk Isbrandsten, Louis Meyi, Joe Whipple and Barton Hyte

OTHERS: Cathy Hoog, executive director of Marblehead-Salem Housing Authorities; Jenny Armini, state representative, and Eva DeCharleroy, legislative director for the office of state Sen. Brendan Crighton, were invited to the meeting for a discussion of housing development on the state level and in Marblehead.

Overview of initiatives

Noonan began the meeting with a slide presentation on Marblehead affordable housing initiatives, highlighting the following:


  • Adoption of the Housing Production Plan, which assessed housing needs, developed goals and priority strategies.
  • Creation of the Housing Production Plan Implementation Committee and the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which currently has $118,900, with an additional $10,000 expected from the Gerry School development.
  • Approval of the accessory dwelling unit bylaw at the 2023 Town Meeting.

Committee priorities

  • Leveraging public assets for mixed-use housing and partnering with the Marblehead Housing Authority to leverage public assets.
  • Expand Smart Growth Overlay Districts and create new SGODs (for example, Village Plaza, Miller’s Plaza, Broughton Road).
  • Engage community groups and stakeholders to support regulatory changes.
  • Allow conversion of existing housing to result in more dwelling units.
  • Strengthen the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
  • Propose inclusionary zoning with the MBTA Communities Plan.

Public properties

The meeting covered other topics including the possible development of other public properties in town:

  • Cathy Hoog referenced the Broughton Road as a possible Housing Authority property for redevelopment. The MHA has applied to the Massachusetts Housing Partnership for a feasibility study on a technical level. Representatives from the Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities will come out to review the site. HLC may be a future funding source for development.
  • Any plan for the development of the Coffin School would first require a vote of the School Committee to turn over the property to the town by a vote of Town Meeting. In the meantime, a plan would need to be created outlining the possible options for the development of the property. This would also require a vote of Town Meeting. Given that warrant articles for Town Meeting have an early 2024 deadline, there is a six-month timeframe to lay the groundwork for all this.

State legislation

Armini had several updates on proposed state legislation:

  • Gov. Maura Healey’s Capital Investment Plan includes $1.5 billion in housing investment, $97 million of which is for a new program called Housing Works to develop, preserve and rehabilitate housing and is capable of producing 200 to 300 units of affordable housing per year.
  • The CIP provides $43 million in new additional funding for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, $120 million for public housing rehab, climate resiliency and redevelopment; and $14.9 million for a Housing Innovations Fund that supports innovative forms of rental housing.
  • The House budget includes $102 million for Housing Authority subsidies.
  • The tax package would increase the rental deduction cap from $3,000 to $4,000.
  • Funding for the RAFT program (Rental Assistance for Families in Transition) could increase to $181 million, up from $41 million.
  • Proposed legislation would increase the Senior Circuit Breaker to $2,400, up from $1,200.

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