Metropolitan Area Planning Council Awards More Than $400k to 15 Local Projects
Arlington, Ashland, Beverly, Boston, Cambridge, Carlisle, Everett, Framingham, Gloucester, Holliston, Ipswich, Lynn, Maynard, Middleton, Milton, Natick, Quincy, Randolph, Salem, Somerville receive grants for transportation projects, urban agriculture, zoning, affordable housing, language access, and more
April 24, 2023 – BOSTON – Fifteen municipal projects in the Greater Boston region will soon put more than $400,000 to work advancing regional priorities in housing production, climate resilience, and equity of wealth and health, thanks to the latest round of technical assistance funding from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC).
MAPC, one of 13 regional planning agencies (RPAs) established by state law, offers technical grants each year that help advance the goals identified in Greater Boston’s regional land use and policy plan, MetroCommon2050. All 101 cities and towns in the MAPC region are encouraged each year to apply for the Technical Assistance Program (TAP), which helps municipalities take on critical projects that they do not have the capacity to address on their own.
TAP is primarily funded through District Local Technical Assistance (DLTA) – dollars the Legislature and Governor appropriate annually, which are distributed to all of the RPAs, including MAPC.
Nearly half of Massachusetts communities do not have professional planners to help shape their future economic development, transportation, housing, green spaces, and town facilities. RPAs help with these essential tasks – everything from updating stormwater guidelines and managing data to preparing economic development plans. The technical assistance work of most of these RPAs is funded almost entirely by DLTA.
“This year we received far more project ideas and applications than we can fund, which speaks volumes to the need for more DLTA funding,” said Andrea Harris-Long, AICP, senior land use planner and the TAP coordinator. “Our cities and towns want to do a lot of good work to make the region more equitable, prosperous, and sustainable, and that’s reflected in this year’s applications. Many are looking for technical assistance to implement the multi-family zoning requirement for MBTA communities (also known as Section 3A) and other initiatives to address the statewide housing shortage.”
TAP is also funded through annual assessments from MAPC’s member municipalities, grants from private foundations, leveraged grants from state programs, and fee-for-service contributions from cities and towns. While MAPC is still reviewing TAP applications, with TAP grants continuing to be announced on a rolling basis, the following cities/towns are the “first round’ of awardees for their FY23 projects, with work set to begin at some point this year:
- Boston: “Creative Urban Agriculture Engagement” – $20,000
- Cambridge: “Active Living Opportunities Assessment” – $20,000
- Carlisle: “Shared Services Study” – $7,500
- Everett: “Housing Production Plan” – $75,000
- Gloucester: “Climate Resiliency Assessment” – $37,500
- Ipswich: “Phase I 3A Visioning – $40,000
- Lynn: “Lynn Grows Food Justice Initiative” – $30,000
- Maynard: “Fowler School Reuse Study” – $45,000
- Middleton: “Affordable Housing Trust 5-Year Plan” – $25,000
- Randolph: “Community Wellness Project” – $25,000
- Salem: “Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance” – $40,000
- Somerville: “Cab to Health” – $12,400
- Beverly, Arlington, Randolph, Milton: “Language Access Project, Phase II” – $10,000
- Framingham, Ashland, Natick, Holliston: “Citizen Heat Mapping Project” – $16,200
- Cambridge, Arlington, Boston, Somerville, Quincy: “Data for Housing Equity” – $35,000
Nearly all projects include elements to advance equity in the region, and especially racial equity, whether through more inclusive community engagement or implementation to advance equitable outcomes. TAP also allows communities to build on their prior work. Randolph’s Community Wellness Project began in 2020 to improve public health and established the town’s first local health center at the Randolph High School, and Somerville’s Cab to Health program launched during the pandemic to give residents free rides to access food and medical care.
“As we saw during the pandemic, communities can innovate in response to local needs if they have the necessary resources and are able to collaborate with neighbors. We are proud to continue to help make those connections through TAP,” said Marc Draisen, executive director of MAPC. “Our municipalities have a wealth of worthy ideas to keep their communities safe, affordable, and healthy, and we simply can’t do this work without critical DLTA funding from Beacon Hill. These are exactly the type of projects community leaders should feel empowered to propose."
TAP funding prioritizes projects that demonstrate strong partnerships between municipalities and community-based organizations; involve multiple communities working together to address shared challenges, including projects that can serve as a model for other communities; and enhance compliance with the new Housing Choice law, including Section 3A MBTA Communities.
Read more about TAP at mapc.ma/TAP.
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