House budget advances Gateway City neighborhood stabilization effort
The Gateway Cities Journal
The FY 2020 House budget released yesterday directs $1 million to MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Initiative (TDI)-with $750,000 of that earmarked for neighborhood stabilization activities. This represents an important step forward (and a strong show of support) for a concerted effort to create a comprehensive neighborhood stabilization program for Massachusetts.
With these funds, MassDevelopment could build upon its successful TDI Fellows program, hiring and dispatching fellows to lead efforts to establish targeted neighborhood stabilization partnerships, as recommended in the policy blueprint presented by MassINC and MACDC earlier this year.
These fellows could offer enhanced technical assistance, helping cities craft systemic approaches to neighborhood stabilization, such as developing integrated data systems to track problem-properties or licensing and inspection programs to ensure that rental properties are properly maintained. Working in targeted neighborhoods, fellows could also lend additional capacity, strategically identifying properties for rehabilitation and weaving together efforts to generate positive momentum through related healthcare, energy efficiency, renewable energy, public safety, and workforce development initiatives.
The move to build a comprehensive neighborhood stabilization program for Massachusetts is perfectly timed with efforts to significantly increase funding for high-poverty schools. For years, education reformers underappreciated the relationship between neighborhood and student success, and overlooked the effect of school improvement policies on neighborhood quality.
With an infusion of funding for K-12 schools on the table, education leaders are now calling for new models that engage the community and leverage its resources to serve students more holistically. While advocates were disappointed by the relatively modest Chapter 70 increase in the House budget proposal, the House debate around what kind of resources Gateway Cities need to deploy these models is just getting going.
The more Gateway Cities leaders are able to demonstrate how this all fits together, the better positioned they will be to make a doubly convincing case for additional resources. With new funding, Gateway Cities can ensure that they are placing students firmly on pathways to success. And education policies that strengthen Gateway City neighborhoods and schools in tandem will generate significant increases in residential property values, making Gateway Cities less and less reliant on state education aid over time.
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