Marblehead League of Women Voters Observer Corps
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.
- 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.
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.
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.