Will April showers bring May flowers?

The Gateway Cities Journal

Will April showers bring May flowers?

April rained federal money down on Massachusetts. Three new funding opportunities are especially promising for Gateway Cities:

  • Solar for All. Massachusetts recently received $156 million from this Inflation Reduction Act program to help low-income communities install solar. Solar for All provides zero interest loans for residential projects, as well as financing for public housing authorities and private affordable housing developments. The program will also support community solar (i.e. larger off-site installations that residents buy into), and notably, it includes a nice carve-out for community-owned projects. Massachusetts Clean Energy Center will lead implementation with support from MassHousing and the Boston Housing Authority.

As noted in a recent MassINC study on economic development strategies for the Pioneer Valley, Gateway Cities in western Massachusetts are eagerly anticipating this opportunity to build community-owned community solar projects, reducing the energy burden on low and moderate-income residents, and keeping energy dollars circulating in their local economy longer.


  • Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A). A $5 billion component of the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), the competitive grant program provides resources to make communities more vibrant and walkable. From complete streets projects to bike trails, SS4A funds both planning and implementation. Last year, Massachusetts won 15 grants totaling $22 million, including awards to Brockton, Haverhill, Lowell, Salem, and Worcester. In the first round, Springfield received a $15 million grant.

The May 16th deadline for the next funding round is fast approaching. Cities, school districts, and/or regional planning agencies will also have a second window this year. The next submission period closes on August 29th.


  • Residential Retrofit. With $22 million from the American Rescue Plan Act, the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) created this program to help public housing authorities and private affordable housing owners upgrade the wiring and equipment in older buildings. These resources offer a one-time opportunity to bring affordable and reliable high-speed internet to tens of thousands of Gateway City residents.

Will these April showers bring May flowers to Gateway Cities, as the old adage foretells? The answer depends on the success of our collective efforts. It takes capacity to make the most of these federal funding opportunities. Gateway Cities are having a hard enough time getting their own ARPA funds out the door. State agencies are overwhelmed too. What can we all do to help?


Housing & Economic Development

Responding to a recent Boston Globe article, Mayor Joshua Garcia says Holyoke punches above its weight and argues for more state investment to promote mixed-income neighborhoods.

A new Worcester grant program supports growth of minority and women-owned businesses.

Jay Ash points out the opportunity that the MBI Residential Retro Fit and Apartment WiFi funds present to close the digital divide.

LightHouse Holyoke will purchase Gateway City Arts.

The Massachusetts Climate Bank rolls out its first loan program to help low- and moderate-income residents decarbonize their homes.



Having voted to establish an overdose prevention site in the city, Worcester health officials are now pushing Beacon Hill to move quickly on legislation that would allow cities and towns to do so.

The state designates Haverhill and Lawrence as ‘Cooling Corridors’ eligible for tree plantings.



The Healey-Driscoll Administration awards $550,000 to Gateway Cities to boost FAFSA completion.

Jack Spillane says UMass isn’t coming back to New Bedford.

Worcester schools face a $22 million budget deficit.

A new report finds preschool enrollment grew in Massachusetts last year.



A Worcester mayoral task force aims to ramp up commuter rail service.

The MBTA announces the return of morning Worcester-to-Boston express trains.


Communities & People

Dan Rivera, the former Lawrence mayor and longtime champion of Gateway Cities, resigns from MassDevelopment.

Dan Kennedy gives a shoutout to the Berkshire Eagle, which celebrates eight years of local ownership after a community group bought the paper from a hedge fund.



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