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.

Housing/Economic Development/TOD

SCI’s Social Capitalist Luncheon recently honored Dr. Vanessa Calderon-Rosado for her work leading a community development corporation, and Bob Rivers, who has advocated for a myriad of social justice causes during his tenure as CEO of Eastern Bank. The 2019 Connect for Community Impact Award was given to the City of Brockton for its inclusive communications strategy and its Brockton Neighborhoods Initiative. 

Framingham mayor Yvonne Spicer and Boston mayor Marty Walsh co-author a CommonWealthop-ed backing Senator Warren’s housing bill, which includes $10 billion for grants to municipalities.

A study done by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council recommends a consolidated planning and development department for Lynn.

New zoning rules awaiting passage in Peabody include affordable housing requirements.

Quincy City Councilors review a plan to build a medical facility, 110 affordable apartments, and a 140-room hotel downtown.

Rents in the North Shore are steadily on the rise, finds the Lynn Item.

Worcester’s downtown continues to see major revival, with new restaurants including an Italian-American concept from the Lock 50 team slated to appear before the License Commission meeting next week. A civil engineering firm migrated their offices downtown this month. And the Boston Globe recently noted the tremendous impact of a 44-acre biotech manufacturing campus soon to join the downtown.

California’s next “gold rush” is going to be transit-oriented development. Urban Land magazine demonstrates the need.

Christina McFarland, Research Director of the National League of Cities, lays out a case for municipalities and state governments to form more constructive relationships in order to jointly address the housing crisis.

The Brookings Institute Metropolitan Policy Program releases the Metro Monitor 2019, finding that inclusion remains elusive amid widespread metro growth and rising prosperity.


The turnaround of the Lawrence school district is seen as a model for education leaders debatinghow the state funds local districts. Former state representative and now COO of MassINC Juana Matias recently addressed this issue in the Boston Globe.

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education selects Quincy Public Schools for the state’s first round of reviews on how to increase graduation rates for minority, economically disadvantages and disabled students.

The New Liberty Innovation School in Salem receives gene editing technology.

WGBH finds the universal language of mathematics has given children more confidence to learn English at James B. Congdon Elementary School in New Bedford, according to the school’s principal.


Fall River Bus Route 5 and New Bedford Bus Route 8 join the SRTA’s extended evening schedulepilot.

Sen. Barry Finegold has asked Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack to allow an additional hour in the Interstate 93 breakdown lane, in an effort to ease congestion for Boston commuters. Wicked Local chronicles the concerns of the public transportation system for commuters.

CityLab points to a recent study that proves the environmental-friendliness of train travel.

Creative Placemaking 

Chelsea holds its first Pupusa Fiesta on Sunday, showcasing the City’s Latino and Central American heritage.

Communities in the North Shore, especially Salem, find that breweries are some of the easiest and most accessible places to congregate.

Architect Magazine profiles Lynn’s “Beyond Walls” murals.

A sculpture that celebrates Fall River’s diversity is planned for an exterior cornerstone of Government Center by city native and artist Barney Zeitz.

CityLab investigates the efficacy of cultural districts in reviving local arts and music scenes. 


A high-profile ACLU lawsuit evaluates if Fall River’s ban on pan-handling constitutes a threat against free speech. Residents and business in Fall River willsoon participate in the Greening the Gateway Cities Program.

Sen. Brendan Crighton (D-Lynnpresents a bill calling for a commission to save local news. The Atlantic recently advocated for the importance of saving print journalism.

Governing weighs in on how local governance can work meaningfully towards alleviating the consumer-debt epidemic.

Communities & People 

Brockton High’s drama club wins the Massachusetts High School Drama Festival.

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