Fair Housing Trainings: Facilitating dialogue in MA towns

In June, JM Goldson launched a new training for municipal staff, boards, and committees on fair housing as related to land use, zoning, and planning decisions. JM Goldson developed this training on behalf of the WestMetro HOME Consortium and working closely with the Regional Housing Services Office and City of Newton Fair Housing Committee.

In the training, municipal officials will review the background of fair housing and its current relevance; delve into fair housing considerations specific to local land use policies and practices; and examine select case law.

Local land use decisions and policies can have a profound effect on advancing fair housing objectives. To further fair housing goals and avoid liability, it is critical for municipal officials involved with local land use decisions and policies to develop an understanding of fair housing laws and best practices. If you would like more information on how to bring this training to your community, please contact us at jamie@jmgoldson.com.

Welcome to our new web site!

Welcome to the new jmgoldson.com, where we've featured the projects we've been working on, more about our staff, what our clients have to say about us, and more!

Under the Contact page, there's an option to subscribe to our mailing list. So if you want to learn more about what we're working on, share your name and email and we will keep you updated.

We're excited about this brand new interface, and invite you to take a look around!

Community Visioning in Tewksbury

This winter and spring, JM Goldson with sub-consultants from RKG Associates and Favermann Design have been working with the Town of Tewksbury to create a 20-year community vision. The project includes soliciting community input through both face-to-face community engagement and digital engagement through a CoUrbanize site dedicated to the project.

coUrbanize Platform

coUrbanize Platform

What is Community Visioning?

Visioning is the act of imagining the future. Before there can be a meaningful plan, community members must agree on a mental picture of what they want their community to look like, feel like, and be like. What would the community be like at its very best?

In 20 years from now, visioning imagines...

  • Who lives here?
  • What are they doing?
  • What are their homes like?
  • How are they getting around?

Community Engagement in Tewksbury

In Tewksbury in the past few months, the Town held a community open house and a focus group for town officials, both of which provided information about the key findings of the 2016 Master Plan and engaged participants in envisioning the future through multiple techniques. Upcoming on May 18th,  the Town will sponsor a Seniors focus group and another community open house on June 1st where the community will be invited to discuss draft vision statements.

The community member reached in this project is greatly expanded through online engagement. The project has used an online platform called coUrbanize to distribute information to members of the town and to get feedback on what people want to see happing in Tewksbury. CoUrbanize, using a map of the town, offers users to leave comments about parts of the town they love, areas that could be better, and what's missing from the town. It also provides us a means to give updates on the visioning process. This project has close to 400 comments shared through the platform!

Community Branding

A part of community visioning is branding the community – when people think of Tewksbury, what do they think of? Mark Favermann, of Favermann Design, created five designs that were showcased at the first open house with the option for participants to vote on their favorites. These designs would brand Tewksbury, and included images of the town hall and gazebo. Participants voted based on what they felt best represented their town.

Here is an article by Mark Favermann on community branding: Urban Branding - An Expression of Civic Character

Timeline

The timeline for the project is linked below:

Tewksbury Vision Project Schedule 042417

Fair Housing Conference 2017 - Building Local Capacity

Last week, Jennifer spoke at the 11th Annual Fair Housing & Civil Rights Conference in Springfield, MA. She spoke as part of a panel on Affordable Housing, Disparate Impact, and Building Local Capacity with Shelly Goehring (Massachusetts Housing Partnership), Rita Farrell (Massachusetts Housing Partnership), and attorney Felicity Hardee. Read Felicity Hardee’s post about the workshop here.

The Fair Housing & Civil Rights conference was a multi-day event featuring workshops and panel discussions from civil rights leaders, nonprofit organizations, and government officials, all working to promote nationwide equality.

Jennifer’s presentation slides are attached below. In the presentation, she focused on building capacity in three categories: political, human, and financial. Check it out!

http://jmgoldson.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Fair-Housing-Conf_Building-Local-Capacity.pdf

We are thrilled to announce the newest member of JM Goldson’s team – Lara Kritzer joins us as Principal Planner!

Lara has close to two decades of experience in municipal government in Massachusetts that has focused primarily on historic preservation, affordable housing, and the administration of the Massachusetts Community Preservation Act. She also has extensive experience in grant writing and administration, comprehensive and community planning, open space conservation, neighborhood design reviews and surveys, as well as community engagement.

Lara joins JM Goldson after nearly a decade as the Senior Planner for the Town of Concord. There, Lara’s work focused on the oversight and development of the Town’s Community Preservation Act, Local Historic Districts, and Historical Commission activities and programs.  As staff to the Community Preservation Committee, Lara was responsible for administering an application and project oversight program with an average of $1.4 million in annual allocations to projects in community housing, open space, recreation, and historic preservation.  The wide range of her work in this area includes experience with the purchase of open space and agricultural lands; the restoration of both locally and nationally significant historic sites; the development of new playing fields and park spaces; and the construction of new affordable housing units both in existing and new developments.

Williamstown Future Neighborhoods Housing Vision

The team at JM Goldson is excited to assist the Town of Williamstown, MA, Planning Board, in collaboration with the Massachusetts Housing Partnership and coUrbanize, in an effort to actively engage the public in conversations about housing in the community’s vibrant and most walkable neighborhoods.

Check out the interactive mapping platform on the project’s coUrbanize site!

What is coUrbanize? It’s an online platform for urban planning projects to post information and host online conversations with community members.

The Cape & Islands Housing Plans

labor-market-declining-226x300.jpg

As our planning team at JM Goldson completes housing plans for the Mid-Cape Town of Barnstable and the Island of Nantucket (teamed with RKG Associates), we are excited to announce new projects in the Cape and Islands region. Teaming with Judi Barrett and the planners at RKG Associates Inc., JM Goldson began work on new projects this summer to prepare Housing Production Plans for the Lower Cape Town of Brewster and the six Martha's Vineyard towns: Aquinnah, Chilmark, Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, Tisbury, and West Tisbury.

Though we are in the early stages of these new projects, some similarities are obvious - namely their success as desirable summer destinations leads to a scarcity of year-round housing that is affordable to families and local workers.

As one business owner in Barnstable recently told us during a community workshop for the Housing Production Plan, employees of her business will often live off the Cape due to lack of homes in their price range and commute long distances for her jobs - people often get tired of this lifestyle, which leads to low worker retention, difficulty attracting skilled workers, and directly hurts the business. Other community members in the region tell us that their adult children are moving out of the region to find homes they can afford in areas with better job opportunities. These testimonies are supported by the data - millennials are moving out of the region and the population is aging - leading to a declining labor market.

As we help these communities plan for future community development and preservation, two common themes continue to emerge:  1) more housing choice is called for to support the needs of residents and foster a stronger local economy and 2) the location and design of new development must respect and protect the region's fragile ecosystem and natural beauty.

The Missing Middle: Where is the mid-sized housing?

"Many people age 50 and older are looking to be part of a social network rather than living in an isolated environment with only people their age. Missing Middle tends to be in communities that are age diverse," says architect Daniel Parolek.

When planners and housing specialists talk about the need for more housing options, we are often talking about what architect Daniel Parolek calls the "missing middle" - accessory apartments, townhouses, duplexes, four plexes, work/live units, etc. . .

Often this type of housing is missing as a result of overly-restrictive local zoning bylaws created decades ago.

In this AARP Livable Communities interview with Parolek, he describes how the idea of the American Dream is rapidly shifting and that more and more Americans want to live in a compact, walkable neighborhood with commercial amenities and services.

Can we embrace this new/old vision? What will it take to create these types of neighborhoods again?

 

MHP's 10th Annual Housing Institute - Registration is open!

Sign up and spread the word! The Massachusetts Housing Partnership's Housing Institute (6/14-15) is a two-day intensive workshop in Devens that actively engages participants in discussion and problem solving around issues related to the development of affordable housing. Lots of great sessions this year including "Illegal Neighborhoods" - How to use zoning to create great communities led by planning consultant Ken Buckland and Difficult Choices - Site Selection and Due Diligence led by development consultants, Kevin Maguire from Oxbow Partners and Rebecca Plaut Mautner.

I'm thrilled to be conducting two trainings again with Jenny Raitt (new Planning Director for Arlington, MA):

  • Where to Begin: Assessing Housing Needs and Creating Plans
  • Building Community Support for Affordable Housing

More info and to sign up.