Families change but nowhere to go: Meet Alicia

StartFragment My name is Alicia Bowman and I live in Newton with my husband and 3 children. I was heartbroken when I had to take my parents’ car keys away because it was no longer safe for them to drive. The natural question following that was: how would they get their food and other necessities? My parents’ house is neither close to public transit nor walking distance to anything they need. When I finally located a suitable apartment near a grocery store, it turns out that they still have to cross a busy, six-lane roadway to get there. My husband’s parents went through a similar experience when they had to move out of their home that had four flights of stairs. My father-in-law felt guilty

Putting down roots: Meet Vanny

StartFragment Triple-deckers gave her family a head start, but where are the affordable options for her? My name is Vanny Huot and I’m a lifelong resident of Revere. Now that I’m in my 30s, I want to set down roots, but I’m here today to tell you that there is an affordable housing crisis in my city and I, along with many of my neighbors, am in danger of getting displaced. My family and I immigrated to the U.S. in 1981 when I was an infant, leaving behind the horrors of the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia and seeking the American Dream. My parents had little education and so their job options were limited to factory work. During those early years, my parents did their best to provide a roof o

Housing & mixed-use fuels downtown: Meet Josh and Kyla

StartFragment We’re Josh Croke and Kyla Pacheco, founders of Action! Worcester, an organization that has been promoting civic innovation and inclusive economic growth in Worcester for the last three years. Like many Massachusetts communities outside of Boston, Worcester has struggled to engage and retain young people, especially students coming out of our local colleges and universities. We’ve seen in other cities across the world how building more housing and creating mixed-used density downtown supports economic growth and increases foot traffic that creates thriving shops, restaurants, and cultural venues. Young people with innovative ideas and a thirst for entrepreneurship want to live i

Better subdivisions: Meet Anne

StartFragment I’m Anne Mazar, a resident of the small town of Mendon in the Blackstone Valley (central Massachusetts). I’m Chair of the Mendon Land Use Committee and the Mendon Community Preservation Committee. Mendon has an “open space residential development” ordinance, often called cluster development. Our community has benefitted from allowing developers to use open space residential development as of right. I’d like to tell you about one example where a developer used it in our community. There was a 36-acre parcel of land that had an 1830 farmhouse perched on a hill surrounded by iconic New England farm fields, forest and vibrant wetlands. The land was home to several wildlife specie

Broken process drives up building costs: Meet Andrew

StartFragment My name is Andrew DeFranza. I’m the executive director of Harborlight Community Partners, an affordable housing developer on the North Shore. Our region consists of 22 communities, most of which are affluent and in high demand as places to live. Workers who live here have access to jobs along the Route 128 corridor, as well as cities like Beverly, Boston, Salem, Lynn and Peabody. Seniors, working families, and people with disabilities live in our housing. There is a desperate need for affordable homes in our region, but restrictive zoning, frivolous lawsuits, and opposition from homeowners prevent us from addressing the need. It takes an unnecessary number of years, staff and

Start-ups need workforce housing: Meet Ray and Rajia

Above: Ray Hamilton (left) and Rajia Abdelaziz are co-founders of a Massachusetts startup that produces jewelry that customers can use to contact police or loved ones during emergencies. Ray Hamilton and Rajia Abdelaziz have tripled their local startup, InvisaWear, over the last few months. But when the founders asked their intern, Mariel Blanco, to come on board as a full-time staff member, she told them she could not stay in Massachusetts. “I was really happy,” said Blanco, but she could not afford to live in the state. The Lowell-based startup offers jewelry that customers can use to contact friends, family, or police during emergencies and is currently testing its products. “It’s tricky

Healthy aging & accessory apartments: Meet Susan

My name is Susan Kurtzman. I have lived in Truro, one of the outermost small towns on Cape Cod, since 1998. In Truro, and throughout the Commonwealth, we have a crisis of affordability in housing. Many people in my town cannot afford to stay in the neighborhoods where they grew up, built their businesses or spent their lives. My business, Jobi Pottery, has been in Truro for 65 years. I am the third owner of this family business which I bought fifteen years ago from the original owner. It is a Truro institution with a strong tradition and has employed local people since the 1950s. In the 15 years I’ve owned my business, the lack of housing that my employees can afford has made it a real hard

Why we need zoning reform: Meet Bryan

My name is Bryan Bryson, I’m a proud resident and community member of Dorchester. I’m also an MIT Professor. I’m here today to tell you the story of being priced out of my neighborhood in Cambridge where I lived for a number of years. And to say that if this is happening to me, a professor making a very good salary, imagine how it’s impacting teachers, nurses, and other working families throughout our Commonwealth. As a child, my mother, who worked as a teacher, was able to find housing for me and my three siblings. I know that if my mother were living in Massachusetts today, she would never be able to find housing for our family. While living in Cambridge as a graduate student, my landlo

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