The Town of Concord is largely a success story when it comes to achieving affordable housing goals - it exceeded the state's c.40B 10% goal, it has allocated millions of dollars of Community Preservation Act funds for local initiative projects, and it has flexible zoning provisions to encourage development of affordable housing. However, Concord's affordable housing issues are not solved and the town recognizes there are many community benefits from continuing to address its well documented housing needs. With an aging population and a community that is not affordable for the average household in the region or even to Concord’s existing households, how can Concord both improve the likelihood that residents can age in the community while increasing affordable options for young families and professionals? Online survey and community workshop results point to opportunities and solutions identified by residents themselves.
Across both the survey and the forum, participants identified the following priorities:
- Small Homes: Preserve existing small homes and encourage the construction of small homes, particularly energy-efficient homes.
- Housing Options: Increase residents’ ability to age in the community with increased housing options and services to enable older adults to downsize but stay in the community.
- Mixed Price Ranges and Affordable Housing: Create homes in a mix of price ranges, including affordable homes for families.
- Diverse Housing Options Near Villages: Develop housing options close to village centers and with convenient access to public transit and shops.
Workshop's Interactive Exercises
To achieve workshop objectives, JM Goldson facilitated interactive exercises that engaged workshop participants and fostered focused discussion. The workshop consisted of two group exercises, as well as digital group polling and small group discussions.
Digital group polling enables participants to learn about themselves and the group while also gathering information about housing and affordability. Many of the polling questions were presented to test knowledge and inform participants on local and regional housing need. The exercise emphasized that Concord is not affordable for households earning the regional or Concord median income.
With Concord’s home values - median home price was about $775,000 - most of the homes on the market wouldn't be within the reach of existing Concord residents. Concord households earning the Town’s median income of $134,705 could afford to buy a home of up to about $460,000.
Group exercise #1 was an ice breaker exercise that consisted of questions designed to get participants talking about the types of homes they have lived in throughout their lives and what type of home they hope to live in someday, if different than their current homes.
The purpose of group exercise #2 was to generate discussion about Concord’s 2010 Housing Production Plan and to help set policy-direction for the 2015 update.
JM Goldon is working with the Regional Housing Services Office and the Town to develop a draft Housing Production Plan that will include goals and strategies based on an updated housing needs assessment as well as the survey and workshop feedback. The draft will be available for community review in early November.