Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick introduces new workforce housing initiatives, adopts GICD recommendations

In July 2012, the Governors’ Institute on Community Design met with Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and his Administration to identify policies and tools to meet the State’s housing needs. Last week, Governor Patrick announced an ambitious housing policy initiative that builds on those strategies.

Speaking before an audience of almost 1,000 people at a statewide housing and community development conference in Worcester, MA on November 13, 2012, Governor Patrick announced a new statewide housing production goal of 10,000 multifamily units in the Commonwealth each year, and a new policy initiative called “Compact Neighborhoods.”

“To meet the needs of our workforce we need more housing for moderate- and middle-income families,” Governor Patrick said at the event. “We need more multi-family homes, rental apartments, and starter homes and we need these homes near jobs, near transit, and near city and town centers.”

“By 2020 across the state, we should see 80,000 new multi-family units. We can do this. In fact, we have to do this.”
– Governor Deval Patrick

The goal to build 10,000 new multifamily units each year, a first-of-its-kind housing production goal, is ambitious. But Governor Patrick and his Administration are determined to achieve this goal. By producing more housing that is affordable to moderate- and middle-income households—or “workforce housing”—that is reasonably dense and located near transit stations, employment and downtown centers, the Patrick Administration’s efforts will help build and retain a young and innovative workforce within the Commonwealth and strengthen the State’s economic competitiveness.

In addition to the housing production goal, Governor Patrick announced a new policy initiative called the Compact Neighborhoods program. The program provides additional incentives that encourage municipalities to identify as-of-right zoning districts (Compact Neighborhoods) and develop affordable and reasonably dense housing for working families near transit and town centers. Municipalities with Compact Neighborhoods can receive priority consideration for other state discretionary funding, including the MassWorks Infrastructure Program. Other funding programs will be considered this year to include a similar preference. The Compact Neighborhoods program complements Chapter 40R, the Commonwealth’s Smart Growth Overlay District Statute, by promoting neighborhoods with affordable housing choices near jobs and transit.

Both the housing production goal and the Compact Neighborhood program were among recommendations made by the Governors’ Institute to the Patrick Administration in a report last month, and support Governor Patrick’s comprehensive economic development plan. The Governors’ Institute has been working with the Patrick-Murray Administration on workforce housing policy since last spring. Workforce housing is a major issue in maintaining the Commonwealth’s economic competitiveness. Even though Massachusetts is the epicenter of the nation’s higher education system—350,000 students attend college or graduate school in the Boston area alone—the Commonwealth is often unable to retain this skilled young talent because of a shortage of affordable homes and lack of housing choices.

In July, the Governors’ Institute convened a high-level workshop that included Governor Patrick, Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray, several cabinet members, agency directors, and key stakeholders, such as local officials, business leaders, and housing organizations, as well as the Governors’ Institute’s nationally renowned housing, transportation, and real estate experts, to discuss policy ideas on workforce housing. Subsequently, the Governors’ Institute provided a set of recommendations to guide the Administration in strengthening its housing initiatives.

The Governors’ Institute’s technical assistance is made possible and guided by the HUD-DOT-EPA Partnership for Sustainable Communities. The Partnerships promotes better coordination between housing, transportation, and other infrastructure investments to create more prosperous and vibrant communities. The Patrick Administration’s new initiatives are a great example of policies and initiatives that the Partnership encourages across the country.

Political will, leadership crucial to building great communities

From left: former Maryland Governor and President of the Governors' Institute, Parris Glendening; former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman, former FEMA Director James Lee Witt, and former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge at the Governors' Institute launch event.

Great neighborhoods, strong local economies and balanced budgets don’t happen by chance. It takes political leadership and resilience to achieve those goals – political leadership that is sometimes hard to come by.

“Everyone wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die to get there,” said former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge during a conversation between past and current state leaders at the National Press Club today. The Governors’ Institute on Community Design hosted the event, which kicked off newly announced support for the Institute from the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development.

That reluctance to stick one’s neck out can have a negative impact on states and local communities, explained former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, who co-chairs the Institute with former Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening. Instead of planning for long-term, sustainable economic growth that meets a wide range of goals, it’s easy for elected officials to lapse into short-term, often politically motivated decisions.

“People have come up with this mindset that it’s an either or [between jobs and smart, long-term thinking], and we have to break that,” said Whitman, noting the pressure on state and local leaders to show immediate results.

She emphasized the need for state and local leaders to think tactically and show more resolve, a point Ridge hammered home when he likened current federal and state budget deficit reduction battles to a “kabuki dance” between political parties.

Many of the decisions needed today are bound to be unpopular, because the country needs both cuts to costly services as well as new revenue creation sources to fund important infrastructure upgrades and investments, Ridge said. Drawing attention to the need for increased leadership at all levels of government is therefore vital, as are more transparent and proactive efforts to inform the public about the realities of municipal costs.

“We almost need a public education campaign,” Ridge said about the cost of updating America’s infrastructure systems and investing in the things that will lead to long-term growth. “You flip on a light, you don’t think about [the cost]. You turn the water on, you don’t think about it.”

What that means for the country’s towns and cities is significant, as leaders shy away from making investments or bold policy changes to attract voters. Politicians on both sides of the aisle might recognize the need for smarter decision-making in light of changing market trends toward walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods and evolving population demographics, but it can be difficult to roll out reforms.

Current governors Martin O’Malley of Maryland and Beverly Perdue of North Carolina addressed that point, noting that leaders must persevere through criticism while simultaneously showing how new strategies will benefit communities over the long-haul.

“To continue to have a state that is growing as quickly as our state is growing, and to continue to have the kind of economic development we want,” Perdue said, “you need revenue … not just in North Carolina, but in any state.”

“All the great things you say during the campaign … all the, ‘I can fix it all with a magic wand,’” she said, “If you want to focus on the future, you have to make tough decisions and you can’t just stick your finger in the wind and decide which way the public is going.”

The Institute, established in 2005 and currently administered by Smart Growth America, aims to shore up political leadership and lend assistance to governors looking to promote economic development and make a better use of taxpayer dollars. Glendening said the three federal agencies’ funding support will enhance the Institute’s ability to provide technical assistance and counsel across the country.

“It’s very clear that the innovation is at the local and state level, and it’s important for us to recognize this at the federal level,” said U.S. Transportation Deputy Secretary John Porcari.

For leaders who want to address state concerns in a more comprehensive, strategic and financially sustainable way, the Institute is at governors’ disposal, Glendening said.

“We see our job in the Obama Administration as doing some of the downfield blocking,” Porcari added.

North Carolina Sustainable Communities Grant Program announces first round of grant projects

North Carolina Community Practices Assessment

North Carolina’s Sustainable Communities Task Force recently announced the recipients of the new Sustainable Communities Grant Program, which supports regional sustainable development partnerships and makes the connection between land use, housing, and transportation issues. Recognizing that regional planning and collaboration are critical to implementing sustainable economic and community development, the state of North Carolina created the grant program to encourage cross-border efforts.

The grant program is a great example of state government recognizing the significance of regional partnerships in sustainable development. By creating incentives to strengthen regional collaboration and providing tools to assess implementation, the program helps communities become more resilient through tough economic times and create innovative solutions to sustainable development.

Nine applications were selected in April 2011, with each grantee receiving between $10,000 and $50,000. Grant applications were evaluated based on four factors: regional collaboration, evidence of need, implementation of sustainable development principles, and project effectiveness.  The Task Force awarded funds to the following entities:

City of Raleigh
Town of Morrisville
Centralina Council of Governments
Triangle J Council of Governments
City of Durham
Town of Fuquay-Varina
Town of Robbinsville
N.C. Eastern Region Military Regional Growth Task Force
Wilmington Metropolitan Planning Organization

The winning applications vary from revitalization projects to transit-oriented development studies.

Centralina Council of Governments, which serves nine counties in the Charlotte region, will use the grant fund to support communities in revitalizing vacant and underutilized properties, currently zoned for industrial purposes. The COG is targeting a total of 150,000 acres across five corridors and identifying existing and potential job centers and regional economic revitalization.

The Town of Morrisville plans on conducting market analysis to assess various options for transit-oriented development along a proposed regional rail line that would stop in Morrisville. They also intend on developing neighborhood compatibility models in order to garner community support for transit-oriented development and to meet the needs of local businesses and communities.

In July 2010, North Carolina passed legislation that established the Sustainable Communities Task Force, six guiding sustainability principles that reflect the federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities, and a $250,000 state grant fund to encourage regional planning and collaboration. The grant fund was available to regional bodies, cities, and counties that are part of a regional sustainable development partnership.

In addition to the grant application, applicants were required as part of the submission to complete the Community Practices Assessment (CPA), a scorecard that allows local governments and regional bodies “to evaluate their current practices and identify opportunities for improvement in six areas of sustainable development.” While the CPA did not drive the grant project selection, the assessment tool helps applicants increase their transparency and accountability of investments they make by tracking progress and measuring performance over time as they move their planning efforts and projects forward.

Previously in April 2010, the Governors’ Institute on Community Design hosted a workshop for Governor Bev Perdue, members of her cabinet, state legislators, and local leaders assisting with the legislation development and other sustainability initiatives in North Carolina, such as the development of the CPA.

Read more about each winning project here.

National experts advise the Christie Administration on state strategic planning

Crossposted from Smart Growth America’s coalition partner, New Jersey Future.

The Governors' Institute hosted a workshop in Trenton, New Jersey for the state cabinet members on May 18th and 19th.

Last week, the Christie administration hosted a Governors’ Institute on Community Design workshop to explore advancing a state strategic plan that focuses on economic development and the importance of location. The event was a milestone in the administration’s state strategic planning project, which is developing recommendations for how to prioritize and support sustainable economic growth.

Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno along with cabinet members and other state officials attended the day-and-a-half long workshop. Visiting speakers included Doug Foy, President, Serrafix and former secretary of Commonwealth Development in Massachusetts; Mitch Silver, Director of Planning and Economic Development for Raleigh, North Carolina; and Daniel Hernandez, Managing Director of the Planning Practice at Jonathan Rose Companies. Kicking off the event were GICD Chair and former Maryland Governor Glendening and former New Jersey Governor and GICD co-chair Christine Todd Whitman.

“Governor Christie was pleased to host the Governor’s Institute on Community Design, “said Wayne Hasenbalg, Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy for the Christie Administration. “This Administration is taking a thoughtful approach to economic development that includes looking at the most efficient places to direct growth.”

The administration is expected to finalize recommendations to the Governor in July. For more information about these and other workshops, visit the Governors’ Institute on Community Design.

State policy to support Main Street (Part 3 of 3): On the ground in Fowler, Colorado

Fowler, Colorado: Location of the proposed SMSI intersection improvement project at the downtown intersection of St. Hwy 50 and St. Hwy 167 (Main St.). Pictured in the lower righthand corner is a draft intersection improvement plan: click on the image to see the full-size version. (Photo courtesy of Nancy Hazlett)

In the first two parts of this series, we looked at the challenges facing Main Streets and spoke with Susan Kirkpatrick, former Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, about the Sustainable Main Streets Initiative (SMSI) to see how state government can be part of the solution. In this third part, we ask: What impact does this state-led program have at the ground level – on Main Street itself?

The impact of the SMSI can be seen in Fowler, a town of just over 1,200 people, which was one of five Colorado communities selected to pilot the initiative. Being selected as a SMSI pilot community “planted a seed of enthusiasm in the general community that has also carried over and further helped to create positive energy and interest in other local projects, such as the renewable energy efforts currently underway in our town,” writes Nancy Hazlett, Fowler’s SMSI Project Champion. She continued:

The SMSI project not only launched a worthwhile traffic/pedestrian safety project, but has also offered great opportunities for structured community education, which will be beneficial as we proceed with other SMSI project goals related to issues such as housing and health care. There seems to be a renewed sense of community pride surfacing as a result of the overall effort.

An important lesson from Colorado’s SMSI program is that it does not always take new funding to make a difference. SMSI does not have a dedicated funding source. Instead, the initiative is intended to streamline the delivery of existing state programs and resources to local communities. And in Fowler, Nancy explains, the new system works:

Becoming more familiar with the technical assistance that is available and learning how we as a community canutilize it to our benefit has been very worthwhile! The SMSI project has provided great opportunities to break down longstanding barriers, whether perceived or real, that separated government from small town rural Colorado. We’ve learned that a tremendous amount of good can come with better understanding of purposes and processes of government.

Fowler was selected to pilot SMSI in part because the town had embraced sustainability. The town went through a community visioning process in 2009 to develop a 2035 Comprehensive Plan, which reflects the shared vision “to become one of the most sustainable communities in Colorado.”

Fowler residents participate in a public meeting regarding the Main Street intersection improvement project. (Photo courtesy of Nancy Hazlett)

Fowler residents pride themselves on their Main Street, which is infused with Western small-town culture and features many historic structures. They envision a Fowler in 2035 that invests in these downtown assets while embracing new economic opportunities, including alternative energy. Achieving economic, environmental, and social sustainability is a big vision for a small town, and their leadership is gaining recognition – Fowler recently won the Wirth Chair Sustainable Cities Award.

Colorado’s Sustainable Main Streets Initiative is a great example of state government stepping up to support small town downtowns, even during a time of budget constraints. Coordinating and improving the delivery of existing services helps communities like Fowler make sure Main Streets remain a quintessential part of American culture.


Check out the previous posts in this series:

Smart investment helps states to reinvent economies

Smart state transportation investments can help reinvigorate economies. (Image Credit: EPA Smart Growth)

A multi-disciplinary panel at the Brookings Institution on February 25, 2011 called for states to invest in infrastructure to reinvent their economies. Bruce Katz, Vice President and Director of the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings, emphasized the states’ critical role as investors in education, innovation and infrastructure and as the “laboratories of democracy.” State and local governments are the primary investors in the cornerstones of economic growth, accounting for 80% of public spending on K-12 education and 74% of spending on both higher education and infrastructure.

Panelists Governor Ed Rendell (PA) and Mike Finney, CEO of Michigan Economic Development Corporation, emphasized the need for governors to get their own houses in order to effectively coordinate and focus investment. “Government that doesn’t invest in its own growth will wither and die.” Pennsylvania and Michigan each established an economic supra-cabinet to coordinate the efforts of the various agencies devoted to the development of the economy, transportation, workforce and communities. Through coordination and investment, Pennsylvania ranked 11th in the nation for job growth in 2010.

On transportation spending, Matt Kahn, Professor of Economics at UCLA, explained the need to “Fix it First, Expand it Second, Reward it Third – A New Strategy for America’s Highways.” Tyler Duvall, Associate Principal at McKinsey and Company, and Robert Puentes, Senior Fellow at Brookings, cited the need for states to upgrade their tool-kits to meet investment challenges by, for example, incorporating cost/benefit analysis into decision-making processes, implementing asset-pricing, and enacting state legislation to enable public/private partnerships. He observed that “government will help those who help themselves, like going directly to the voters and not waiting for Federal funds or an increase in gas tax.”

The Governors’ Institute on Community Design is developing state workshops to: prioritize transportation spending, develop strategic approaches to state economic development, channel investment to infrastructure-rich redevelopment areas and adopt new design approaches for communities hit hard by foreclosures and vacancies. States will need these and other sound strategic and programmatic approaches to fulfill their destiny as laboratories of democracy and effective stewards of infrastructure funds.

See also: “New report from Brookings Institution advocates for road repair and maintenance” (Smart Growth America)

A new director and new approach at the Governors’ Institute on Community Design

Jody Tableporter, Director, Governors' Institute on Community Design (Image Credit: Harvard University)

For the past six years, NEA has partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency to sponsor the Governors’ Institute on Community Design. The Governors’ Institute conducts state-level work on design, sustainability, and placemaking to foster connected, economically vital communities that tread lightly on the environment.

Jody Tableporter, the new Director of the Governors’ Institute, had this to say as she took up her new role:


NEA: It is a great job, but a challenging one. Are you up for the challenge?

Jody Tableporter: I love the complexity and challenge of working across policy, projects, and place. It probably helps that I’ve been in the middle of delivering complex projects like the expansion of the Tate Modern – things don’t get much messier than that!


NEA: What do you hope to accomplish while you’re at the Governors’ Institute?

JT: I’d like to blend the best of design, economic development, and city building to help states help communities. This means bringing the best experts and proven practice to the toughest problems, as well as piloting new solutions.


NEA: What do you hope to learn while you’re at the Governors’ Institute?

JT: Despite having a job that is focused, analytical, and “big picture” by nature, I love experiencing what is unique and extraordinary in communities, whether it be a locally grown arts organization or amazing architecture. I will be soaking up as much as possible on my trips to meet with governors and state administrators.


NEA: What experience from past jobs will you put to use in your new role?

JT: I worked in industry strategy and real estate development before combining that experience in city and regional placemaking. I have been on architecture design teams and I have worked with engineers on infrastructure delivery, with businesses and industry clusters, and as a public funder of major projects and programs.


NEA: What are you most proud of accomplishing during your career to date?

JT: Creating a plan for South London that supported arts organizations as part of an economic strategy. Many questioned whether the Tate, South Bank Centre, and the Young Vic Theatre, all established London arts institutions, needed more government funding. I never did. They have had a tremendous impact on the local economy, as well as London’s place in the world.


NEA: Given the types of programs and projects you’ve overseen throughout your career, how would you define “Creative Placemaking?”

JT: Using creative design to plan and coordinate physical projects, e.g., transit corridors; capitalizing on local arts organizations and clusters to anchor the economics and heart of communities. After all, creative placemaking is about creating great places that foster entrepreneurs and cultural industries that generate jobs and attract businesses.


NEA: We’ve been talking a lot about the relationship between creative industry and the economy. What do you think is the link?

JT: Creative industry is a local economic driver; it is one of those vital economic “clusters” that is almost universal.


NEA: Tell us one of your guilty pleasures?

JT: Snuggling down with my family to watch old musicals; it is what I did with my family growing up.


NEA: Any last words?

JT: Can’t wait to get going!