Gateway Cities Caucus Unveils New Bill Launching a Neighborhood Stabilization Initiative

BOSTON — Sen. Eric P. Lesser and Rep. Antonio F. D. Cabral, chairmen of the Gateway Cities Caucus, joined caucus member Sen. Brendan P. Crighton to unveil the Neighborhood Stabilization Initiative on Wednesday.

The initiative is a top priority for the caucus this legislative session, introduced in the House as H.D. 3507 by Chairman Cabral and in the Senate as S.D. 1578 by Sen. Crighton.

The bill provides new tools to increase home ownership and fill vacant homes in the state’s former industrial cities, often referred to as “Gateway Cities.” It incentivizes new housing development and establishes a commission to study how to best improve the housing stock in weak markets, by making these properties safer, more accessible and more resilient.

“While the price of a home in Boston has increased steadily since the 2008 recession, the price of a home in Springfield, New Bedford and many other communities has decreased. We need to reverse this trend, and this bill begins to do just that. Most families’ wealth is in their homes. For all our families to get ahead and leave something behind for their children, we need to address this disparity in housing prices, boost our communities’ home values and open more vacant homes to development,” said Sen. Eric P. Lesser.

“We have a unique opportunity, with the incredible research conducted by MassINC and MACDC, to put forth meaningful legislation for our Gateway Cities and rural communities struggling with blight and destabilized neighborhoods. Our commercial downtowns are thriving again, thanks to thoughtful investments and programs that the Gateway Cities Legislative Caucus developed in past years. Now we need to rebuild our neighborhoods—where families live, students learn, and small businesses serve the community. And we can with the help of a stabilization toolkit. The Neighborhood Stabilization Initiative is our legislative response to this complex issue and I look forward to a successful session,” explained State Representative Antonio F. D. Cabral (D – New Bedford).

“It has been great working with the Gateway Cities Legislative Caucus, the Gateway Cities Innovation Institute and the MACDC to put together this legislation that will have an immediate impact on communities across the state,” said Senator Brendan Crighton.  “Our bill creates much needed tools for municipalities to address blighted properties and stabilize distressed neighborhoods.”

The bill is based on a report by MassINC, a nonpartisan think tank, and the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations. The report, published earlier this year, found that the average home price in Boston has increased by 46 percent since the 2008 recession while the average home price in Springfield has decreased by 5 percent over the same period.

“We need to pay more attention to this other housing problem because neighborhoods play a fundamental role in nurturing lifelong well-being,” said MassINC Research Director, Ben Forman. “And we also must recognize that if we continue to let these neighborhoods decline, more and more of this dense, older housing stock will be lost, and the affordable housing and homelessness problems Massachusetts faces will get that much worse.”

“While we work to tackle the challenges of rising home prices in Greater Boston, we also must deal with the state’s ‘other housing crisis’ in some of our Gateway Cities and Rural Towns where weak housing markets result in vacancy, blight and poor housing quality,” said Joe Kriesberg, President and CEO of MACDC.  “We need new policies and new resources designed to get troubled properties back on-line as healthy, safe housing where parents can raise a family in a vibrant community.”

 

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Ryan Migeed