The former metropolis supervisor of Worcester begins because the state’s model new secretary of housing and livable communities Thursday, and advocates are pitching all the things from common housing to zoning reforms as early priorities.
Gov. Maura Healey tapped Ed Augustus, a former state senator and metropolis administrator, to work as the top of a cabinet-level secretariat devoted to housing, constructing houses, and decreasing related prices. The administration hailed the place as a one resolution to the housing disaster plaguing Massachusetts.
Augustus ought to give attention to setting metrics for housing manufacturing that embody inexpensive and “deeply affordable” models, file a housing bond invoice, and create an Office of Fair Housing inside the secretariat, mentioned Rachel Heller, CEO of Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association.
“Massachusetts has the fifth largest racial homeownership gap in the nation. And this needs to be a focus of the administration as well [as] the focus of Secretary Augustus’ work,” Heller mentioned. “And in addition to homeownership, we also have racial wealth disparities, and so ensuring there are pathways for economic mobility and for people who are renting.”
Healey pitched the Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities because the go-to supply for struggling owners and renters within the state. The administration mentioned the high-level official devoted to discovering solutions to the excessive value of housing will work with individuals from throughout the state.
Rep. Mike Connolly, a Cambridge Democrat who has targeted a lot of his legislative work on housing, mentioned Augustus must be a key participant in making a “universal housing” program in Massachusetts, or the concept that everybody within the state is assured a spot to stay.
“I think that could look similar to what it looked like when Massachusetts decided we were going to pursue that goal of having universal health insurance coverage,” Connolly informed the Herald on Wednesday.
When Healey introduced Augustus as the brand new secretary, she pointed to his work distributing or committing tens of hundreds of thousands to develop or protect greater than 2,000 inexpensive housing models in Worcester.
In a press release to the Herald, Augustus mentioned he’s “honored” to imagine the position and appears ahead to constructing a “comprehensive housing and stabilization strategy while centering fairness and equity with every opportunity.”
“My immediate priorities include getting to know our hardworking staff to learn from them and how we can best support them, evaluating options for accommodating demand on our Emergency Assistance shelter system, and connecting with all stakeholders, including local officials, to strategize on how we can get everyone on board with ramping up production,” Augustus mentioned.
Working with cities and cities is strictly what Symone Crawford, head of the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance, thinks Augustus must give attention to, particularly because it pertains to zoning reforms and necessities round multi-family housing in communities served by the MBTA.
“I know [Augustus] has his work cut out for him but he has to make sure that each and every decision maker in the state as it relates to this homeownership crisis is accountable for what they need to do,” Crawford mentioned.
With the brand new secretariat, the Healey administration spliced the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development into two. Economic Development Secretary Yvonne Hao will oversee the opposite half of the unique workplace.
The Department of Housing and Community Development, one of many essential state touchpoints for these unaccompanied adults experiencing homelessness, will fall underneath Augustus, the Healey administration mentioned.
Keeping the difficulty of homelessness tied to housing and Augustus’s new secretariat is vital, mentioned Joe Finn, president of the Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance.
Among the various points the brand new workplace must deal with is discovering a strategy to “expedite the creation of various housing models” to fulfill the wants of homeless individuals and their differing circumstances, Finn mentioned.
“We need some level of supportive housing that has to be developed. But we can’t do that by doing three or four, five projects a year, right, we have to come up with a plan around how to convert some resources in the direction of doing that type of supportive housing,” he informed the Herald.