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Thread: Suburb and affordable housing

  1. #1

    Suburb and affordable housing

    I recently became a town planner in Needham, MA. Starting this year, the director has decided to put some initiatives in development affordable housing units. Though a well-to-do suburb, the town itself can hardly take on the development by itself. Ironically, most grants and funds are geared towards needy urban areas and seem to overlook at the need/opportunity of affordable housing development in the suburban area (at least in my eyes).

    Unlike some other rural towns, Needham is only about 15 miles away from Downtown Boston. It would be a perfect setting for some affordable housing to occur where less wealthy people can actually have the opportunity to live where many middle-class ******* possess their home.

    Anyone have any thoughts on how a town like Needham strategize to make affordable housing development happen?

  2. #2
    Accessory apartments. Housing trust fund. Inclusionary housing program. Support for private initiatives.

  3. #3
    Consider the New Urban approach of allowing true mixed use; in other words, allow apartments above or attached to businesses and shops. It serves the purposes of providing affordable housing, reducing car trips, and energizing commercial districts with pedestrian traffic.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Aug 2001
    The Cheese State
    We've always partnered with the private sector to get housing initiatives (of all types) constructed. The best place to start is with a good analysis of the market. Demonstrate a need and there is sure to be a developer willing to fill it, although given market considerations, affordability may sometimes require the public sector to close the gap.

    Programs like section 42 credits are effective, but I have not had much luck with CDBG. Maybe this is a result of the way the program is run at the state level. Brownfield and other redevelopment sites have usually proved the best locations, and the New Urbanism plays well in these locations.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  5. #5
    Some things I know to be true in the south, I don't know about the north.

    First, even boilerplate zoning ordinance does not prohibit integrated uses. It usually does tie into building code requirements for putting residences above retail.

    Second, is this something that people ask for at public hearings? Does the community want to spend their tax money for subsidised housing in their town?

    I don't mean to be a downer, I consider myself to be an advocacy planner, but I think I'd go with Jerry's suggestions before you get identified with some of the more aggressive alternatives.

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