A Community Development Agenda for the next Mayor of Boston
Boston is widely known across the country for having one of the strongest CDC networks in the United States. One reason for our success has been the close partnership between the CDCs and City Hall during the tenure of Mayor Thomas Menino and his predecessor, Mayor Ray Flynn. Both Mayors have worked with CDCs as partners and the results speak for themselves. In particuar, under Mayor Menino’s Leading the Way Initiative, CDCs and the CIty of Boston have successfully built and preserved thousands of homes and created thousands of jobs. Can you imagine what Boston neighborhoods would be like today if the Mayor and the CDCs were in conflict and competition, instead of collaboration? Personally, I’d rather not think about that!
With the campaign to succeed Mayor Menino now fully underway, the MACDC Boston Committee has developed a 10 point Community Development Agenda that we are releasing as part of our effort to ensure that this extradorinary record of achievement and collaboration continues regardless of which candidate emerges as the winner. We recommend the following:
- Enact a strong Inclusionary Development Ordinance: Such an ordinance should (a) require that a minimum of 15% of the units in new market-rate developments be affordable, (b) establish “pay-out” fees sufficient to produce a comparable number of off-site units, (c) ensure greater transparency at the Boston Redevelopment Authority, (d) ensure neighborhood equity, and (e) empower DND to administer IDP dollars along with other housing funds.
- Strengthen the City’s Linkage program: This requires increasing the linkage payments for housing and workforce development and allowing linkage funds to be used for a broader array of community economic development and small business development programming.
- Continue Leading the Way: The City of Boston must continue to “Lead the Way” on affordable housing by establishing ambitious, measurable multi-year goals for housing and by growing the City’s annual Leading the Way appropriation from $5 million to $10 million per year.
- Leverage public land disposition: The City should establish land disposition policies that require or at least favor affordable housing development and price such land to enable developers to build homes that are affordable to Boston residents. The City should also prioritize selling properties to community based non-profits that propose development plans consistent with neighborhood priorities. The City should also exercise leadership to ensure that state-owned parcels are developed with similar guidelines and priorities.
- Support neighborhood economic development: The City should fund a robust and city-wide small business development support system that leverages the capacity, expertise, and physical presence of CDCs and other community based organizations across the City. Such a program should provide training, technical assistance and financing to existing and aspiring entrepreneurs and should be designed to leverage private, federal and state dollars.
- Promote Mixed Use and Transit Oriented Development: The City should partner with CDCs and other private developers to support mixed use developments, especially those near transit nodes, which help create the lively, vibrant urban neighborhoods that Boston resident’s desire. This means strategically leveraging housing dollars, CDBG funds, public land, and zoning tools to make it easier and less expensive to bring those projects to completion.
- Enact the Community Preservation Act: The new Mayor should lead a campaign to win ballot approval of the Community Preservation Act to provide new funding for affordable housing development, historic preservation and green space. The CPA would establish a 1% property tax surcharge and leverage millions of dollars in state matching funds.
- Partner with community based organizations: The City should leverage the assets and capacity of local community based organizations, CDCs and others, to implement housing, economic development, workforce development and other city priorities.
- Ensure the Casino benefits Boston residents: If Boston becomes home to a new casino, the new Mayor must ensure that Boston residents are able to access jobs during both construction and operation of the facility. Local, minority and women owned businesses must have access to contracting opportunities and community mitigation funds must be provided to impacted neighborhoods.
- Advocate for state and federal resources: The next Mayor of Boston must be a leader at the State House and with our Congressional delegation to make sure Boston has access to state and federal dollars for housing, economic development, brownfields recapitalization and many other programs.