New Bedford’s leadership on housing is a model for Gateway Cities

The Gateway Cities Journal

New Bedford’s leadership on housing is a model for Gateway Cities

A new analysis of local and regional housing needs by New Bedford’s Regeneration Project marks an inflection point in the statewide housing crisis. Produced by MassINC, this in-depth report provides insight into rapidly escalating housing costs, and actions that private and public sector leaders in Greater New Bedford can take to get to the root of the problem. The report also offers a model that we will build on to help all Gateway Cities tackle stubborn housing problems with both local action and collective advocacy.

Staffed by the New Bedford Economic Development Council, the Regeneration Project is a diverse group of private sector leaders tasked with providing long-term vision and strategy to advance the sustainable regeneration of the New Bedford economy. Recognizing the direct connection between economic development and a stable housing market and the urgent need to disentangle the forces contributing to rising housing costs, members of the project fundraised to underwrite a major study.

The resources that they marshalled allowed MassINC to devote the better part of 2023 to analyzing housing trends in Greater New Bedford. We combed through every available data source to gain a deeper understanding of housing demand drivers in the region. We also examined production trends, and the stubborn financial gap between the cost to build housing and the revenue generated by new housing development.

Thanks to New Bedford, we are in a much better position to describe Gateway City housing markets in rich detail, quantifying the unique contribution that these communities provide to their regional economies, their untapped potential to offer more housing opportunities, and the policies that the state can adopt to unlock this growth. Throughout 2024, we’ll be building on New Bedford’s substantial contribution. Refining and improving our methods to ask and answer probing questions about Gateway City housing markets, including what it will take to balance supply and demand, increase homeownership, and build value in ways that create equitably shared wealth.

We’ll be pursuing these research questions with a real sense of urgency. The Healey administration is working on a statewide production plan and recently formed a commission and advisory council to inform the strategy. A true understanding of Gateway City housing needs and the considerable variation across these markets will be critical to these deliberations.

The recent expansion of the Housing Development Incentive Program (HDIP) demonstrates how Gateway Cities can shape state policy for the better; by joining forces, they helped others appreciate the outsized contributions that they will provide with policies attuned to the unique needs of weaker markets. From building net zero housing to operating supportive housing, our hope is that this new research will position Gateway Cities to once again provide much-needed leadership on range of housing issues facing the commonwealth. Stay tuned!



The New Bedford Light reports on our study, unpacking the drastic need to increase housing production in the city.

EOHLC issues new guidelines and a process for awarding HDIP credits.

With help from HDIP, a mostly-vacant office tower in downtown Worcester will be converted into nearly 200 apartments.

Brockton projects up to six stories tall can now be built without variances in some commercial and industrial districts, after city leaders cut approval process red tape.

Governing revisits the merits of land value and vacant property taxes.


Economic Development

The state will launch an energy innovation center in New Bedford.

Holyoke officials unveil a $100 million plan to make the city the “sports capital of New England.”

With bonding from MassDevelopment, the Helfrich Brothers will expand their boiler manufacturing plant in Lawrence.

MassDevelopment provides new grants to support small businesses in TDI districts.

The Brookings Institution charts the latest minority-owned business trends.



New MassINC report shows Massachusetts increased educator diversity in some Gateway Cities over the past decade, while others struggled to recruit and retain teachers of color.

The state declines to take Holyoke schools out of receivership, frustrating local officials..

Bob Schwartz urges leaders to focus on strengthening community colleges rather than making them free for all students.

Leaders say Early college is working well for students and the state.


South Coast Rail is still on track for a summer 2024 opening.

MassDOT taps a former Rhode Island official to serve as the director of the east-west rail project. According to the new official, the project will be a series of incremental investments.


Communities and People
Education Commissioner Jeff Riley, who made his mark as receiver of the Lawrence Public Schools, announces his retirement.



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