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Planning for Housing Production Program

A rendering of Ames Shovel Works Apartments in Easton, Mass.

Ames Shovel Works Apartments in Easton was developed in line with the community's housing production plan.

Program Goals

MassHousing's Planning for Housing Production Program builds on local affordable housing planning, by providing cities and towns with additional technical capacity to implement their own housing production goals, and deliver new mixed-income housing.

Successful applicants will identify housing development opportunities and barriers preventing the realization of local housing planning strategies, and will demonstrate a commitment to working collaboratively to deliver on their housing goals.

By assisting municipalities in progressing toward, achieving and exceeding Chapter 40B's 10 percent affordable housing goal, MassHousing's Planning for Housing Production Program will help reset the way cities and towns interact with Chapter 40B, and forge new partnerships between MassHousing and participating municipalities to meet the Commonwealth's housing challenges.

Program Overview and Use of Funds

MassHousing's Planning for Housing Production Program will provide $2 million in grants of consultant services, across multiple years, to municipalities that are actively planning to increase their supply of affordable housing.

By providing Massachusetts cities and towns with grants of technical assistance services, and fostering deep, sustained engagements between local stakeholders and technical support teams, the program will build capacity at the local level, and empower cities and towns to control their own development destinies by achieving production-driven Chapter 40B safe harbor status.

Participating municipalities will identify a problem to be solved that stands in the way of a local housing plan being implemented, such as a lack of staffing capacity, a need for technical assistance, or project/process management. MassHousing's technical assistance grant will help the municipality overcome these self-identified roadblocks, and deliver on local housing opportunities.

The implementation projects to be funded will be locally driven. MassHousing anticipates funding projects fitting within two broad categories: Planning and community development projects, and projects involving local design services, such as public infrastructure design. MassHousing will fund planning and community development grants by contracting directly with third-party consultants, then matching consultants with municipalities, based on their respective expertise and local needs. MassHousing will fund local design services grants by making direct cash grants to selected applicants. If necessary or appropriate, MassHousing will consider other funding delivery mechanisms.

The value of grant awards will vary, depending on the level and scope of a grantee's self-identified needs. Grants will be awarded at a level commensurate with the level of new housing production being pursued. All awards will require a local cash match, equal to 10 percent of the value of the grant or technical services awarded.

Eligibility

Municipalities in the Commonwealth with a Subsidized Housing Inventory (SHI) percentage of less than 13.0 percent are eligible to apply for Planning for Housing Production grants. Communities that currently have multifamily housing development moratoria are not eligible to apply.

The Planning for Housing Production Program seeks to implement municipal planning for mixed-income housing growth. Applicants should have already completed a locally-driven housing planning process, including but not limited to a comprehensive master plan, a DHCD-approved Housing Production Plan, or a housing visioning process. Applications will identify new housing production opportunities that could be delivered with a technical assistance intervention, and will set a meaningful and achievable local goal for achieving new mixed-income housing production.

Municipalities may partner with non-municipal entities, including regional planning agencies, on grant proposals. The municipality must be the lead applicant.

Preference will be given to applications that clearly document market demand for new mixed-income housing development and articulate a compelling vision for meeting that need. All applications shall demonstrate consistency with DHCD's fair housing principles, including the affirmative fair housing marketing requirements (see Attachment 1 in the application below), and the Commonwealth's Sustainable Development Principles (see Attachment 2 in the application below).

Preference will be given to communities that demonstrate a link between the proposed grant activities, and the achievement or maintenance of production-related safe harbor status under Chapter 40B, through achieving certified Housing Production Plan status or the 10 percent housing affordability goal.

Eligible Grant Activities

The planning services MassHousing will offer communities will vary, depending on local needs, but will generally include

  • Assistance crafting new zoning to spur new housing growth, whether through Chapter 40A, Chapter 40R, or a friendly Chapter 40B proposal;
  • Assistance planning public infrastructure improvements needed to support housing growth;
  • Capacity-building in planning and community development; and
  • Public education and data transparency initiatives around financial feasibility, development cost-benefit analysis, local infrastructure needs, and school cost / school enrollment projections.

The implementation strategies funded under this grant program will vary, depending on local opportunities and local needs, but will generally respond to an established planning vision, and advance the realization of that vision in a measurable way.

Example projects include, but are not limited to

  • Public engagement in support of rezoning activities or housing development opportunities;
  • Drafting and enacting an inclusionary zoning bylaw;
  • Designing a water and sewer extension needed to unlock an affordable housing development site;
  • Drafting and enacting zoning for multi-family housing, under Chapter 40A or Chapter 40R;
  • Carrying out strategies to deliver new housing production in an existing Chapter 40R smart growth district;
  • Developing and delivering implementation strategies for a regional housing plan;
  • Conducting site feasibility and predevelopment studies;
  • Creating District Increment Financing or Urban Center Housing Tax Increment Financing districts.

Grant applications shall identify the type and scope of technical assistance being sought, the deliverable associated with the technical assistance being sought (e.g., the drafting of new zoning language, the design of a public sewer extension, or the permitting of a mixed-income housing project by a zoning board or Town Meeting), and the number of new housing units and new affordable housing units to be created as a result of the grant activities.

MassHousing is prepared to make substantial multi-year commitments to projects of exceptional complexity and merit. Applicants seeking such a commitment should be prepared to meet performance benchmarks and demonstrate forward progress throughout the grant period.

Proposals related to meeting Chapter 40B's 1.5 percent general land area minimum will not be considered.

Selection Criteria

Grant applications will be competitively scored against the following criteria:

  • Documented local and regional housing need
  • Clarity of the applicant's vision for meeting local and regional housing need
  • Strength of the planning implementation proposal
  • Degree to which the technical assistance proposal responds to locally-identified housing production roadblocks
  • Feasibility and marketability of the applicant's planning vision
  • Consistency of grant activities with previous local planning
  • Consistency of grant activities with regional planning, where applicable
  • Consistency of planning vision with fair housing and sustainable development principles (see Attachments 1 and 2)
  • Degree to which grant activities will result in the achievement or maintenance of production-related safe harbor status under Chapter 40B, such as meeting Housing Production Plan targets, or exceeding 40B's 10 percent affordability goal
  • Adequacy of local match and local support for the grant activities and planning vision

Application Process

View the Planning for Housing Production Program Application

Applicants must submit an electronic copy of this application to Greg Watson, Manager of Planning and Programs, by 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 29, 2018. Fax copies and hard copies of the application will not be accepted.

A complete application includes

  1. A cover letter signed by the municipality's chief administrative official,
  2. A completed application form and narrative,
  3. A proposed timeline for the technical assistance engagement,
  4. Electronic copies of relevant planning documents, and
  5. Any relevant letters of support.

It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that its application is complete and is received by MassHousing. All applications will be logged as to date and time received and retained as public records.

MassHousing reserves the right to request additional information from the applicant or external sources as may be necessary in order to complete the application review.

As needed, MassHousing will consult a team of reviewers, to review pending applications and develop recommendations for funding. Final decisions will be rendered by MassHousing's Executive Director. Funding decisions are at the discretion of the Executive Director and are not subject to challenge or appeal.

Contact Information

Gregory P. Watson, AICP, Manager of Planning and Programs
MassHousing
1 Beacon Street
Boston, MA 02108
gwatson@masshousing.com | 617.854.1880

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