Municipal Engagement Initiative

CHAPA’s Municipal Engagement Initiative seeks to help communities build support for affordable housing production in cities and towns across the Commonwealth. CHAPA's Municipal Engagement staff works with local municipalities and community groups to conduct public education efforts in support of their housing production efforts, with an emphasis on increasing affordable housing. Strategies will be developed to work within the context and goals of each community.

While all communities will benefit from public education and community discussions about the need for housing development and how it benefits communities economically, each community is unique in its character, land, zoning, and housing stock. CHAPA strives to develop a community engagement model that will broadly work in all communities while allowing for flexibility in the model to work within each unique environment. The Municipal Engagement Initiative is based on the collaborative model CHAPA uses at the state level, focusing on building coalitions that work together to address each community’s housing challenges. Coalition building at the local level will bring together stakeholders representing local businesses, civic groups, houses of worship, and other groups and individuals that are active in each community.

For more information, contact Whitney Demetrius, Municipal Engagement Program Associate.

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Municipal Engagement Initiative Community Application

The application process for the current round of Municipal Engagement Initiative Communities is now closed. If you have any questions, please contact Dana LeWinter, Municipal Engagement Director, at dlewinter@chapa.org.

In addition to meeting the required criteria outlined below, all applications should align with CHAPA’s mission to encourage the production and preservation of housing that is affordable to low and moderate income families and individuals and to foster diverse and sustainable communities through planning and community development.

Applications will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

Required:

  1. Market Conditions to support Housing Production and Affordable Housing
  2. Additional Conditions needed to build support. Examples of conditions that indicate need may include, but are not limited to:
    • Municipal staff seeking assistance to engage community around housing production and affordable housing,
    • Local advocacy or community group seeking assistance to engage community,
    • No existing coalition,
    • High level of organized opposition preventing municipality from moving forward with efforts to produce housing,
    • Close votes on zoning and development proposals, or
    • Missed opportunities identified
  3. Welcomed by Municipality at some level (Mayor, Town Manager, ZBA, Planning Staff, Fair Housing Commission, etc.)

Additional Considerations:

  1. Trigger: New Zoning proposal, specific site changing hands, public site available for affordable housing, new leadership, new regulation or policy being explored
  2. Past Effort: Consideration will be gievn to past efforts, barriers, challenges, and potential for impact
  3. Collaboration with other Technical Assistance efforts: The MEI seeks to coordinate efforts with other technical assistance providers to maximize impact

Note: Attention will be paid to reaching communities of different sizes, geographies and stages of housing production activity, but this will not be the only criteria.

Both Municipal Governments and Community Groups may apply.

 

Statewide Technical Assistance Providers

In addition to the lessons learned from work on the ground, CHAPA will convene meetings of Metro-Boston and statewide organizations working in local communities.  Meetings will provide opportunities for organizations to share information on their models and progress as well as to coordinate work between groups who are doing work simultaneously in particular communities. By coordinating efforts, the various Technical Assistance Providers can better serve communities and work together to address challenges. To learn more about each Technical Assistance Provider, their services and funding opportunities, please use the links below.

Additional Resources

The Department of Housing and Community Development and CHAPA's Municipal Engagement Initiative have worked collaboratively to create a comprehensive compilation of technical assistance and grants for housing and planning, in an effort to assist communities in accessing state resources, as well as resources from state partner agencies and non-profits. The searchable Excel spreadsheet includes 14 programs and covers all 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts, even if they have not received a recent grant or technical assistance. You can view the searchable database and more info on the collaborative effort at the Housing Choice Initiative webpage.
 
The Municipal Engagement Initiative was pleased to host Katherine Levine Einstein of BU to share the report "Who Participates in Local Government? Evidence from Meeting Minutes" along with a moderated discussion by a panel of practitioners on November 7, 2018. Learn more about the "Who is the M in NIMBY?" Breakfast Forum.
 
Check out these additional tools and resources: