|Metro Area Planning Council.
The following is a guest post from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, a member of the Smart Growth America coalition. Congratulations to the Council for Metro Boston’s recent award of a HUD Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant!
Smart Growth in greater Boston, Mass. scored a major victory recently with the region’s receipt of a $4 million Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This grant will support the implementation of MetroFuture, the region’s blueprint plan for sustainable and equitable long-term growth. MetroFuture was developed with the participation of over 5,000 “plan-builders,” including individuals, academic institutions, business organizations, community based organizations, and others.
With support from the HUD grant, the newly-formed Consortium for Sustainable Communities will work to make smart growth goals a reality through local planning efforts, state and regional policy work, development of tools and data, and capacity building for local residents and leaders. By helping specific communities align their growth with the MetroFuture vision, the Consortium will create models and templates to make it easier for other communities in the region to follow suit. Recognizing that smart growth looks different in downtown Boston than it does in developing suburbs, for example, and that each of these community types has different strengths and challenges, the Consortium’s work will vary to suit the needs of the places where they are to be used.
The Consortium is made up of a diverse group of over 100 partners, all working to support the diversity of needs in the region and build on their unique strengths. Because so many decisions that impact regional growth are made at a local level, municipalities make up the backbone of the Consortium. Of the 101 municipalities in metropolitan Boston, over half – representing almost two-thirds of the region’s population – joined the Consortium during its development, and we hope the rest will join in time. The Consortium also relies on the many nonprofits, business organizations, and academic institutions in the region, including:
- Alternatives for Community and the Environment – an advocacy organization working on building power in communities of color and low-income communities to achieve environmental justice;
- The Boston Fair Housing Commission – the city agency that works to eliminate discrimination and increase access to housing in Boston;
- The Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University – a center providing data analysis, multidisciplinary research and evaluation and a policy agenda to a wide variety of issues facing Metro Boston;
- The Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance – a coalition of seven housing, environmental, land use, equity, and other advocacy organizations working on statewide policy change;
- The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) – the regional planning agency representing the people who live and work in the 101 municipalities of Greater Boston;
- Partners HealthCare – a non-profit health system that includes two academic hospitals, community hospitals and health centers, and other health-related entities.
The Consortium’s many partners are a testament to a new spirit of collaboration that has permeated the region over the last several years, and to the power of the MetroFuture plan to act as a framework through which many other organizations and initiatives are evaluating priorities, coordinating efforts, and measuring success. The Consortium for Sustainable Communities will enable partners to take their partnerships, and their work to build a better region, to the next level.
In the near future, the Consortium will come together as an entity for the first time, electing a governing body that will begin to make the difficult decisions of how best to invest our new resources. In addition to the local planning work mentioned above, the grant will enable MAPC and its Consortium partners to fill in the few remaining gaps in the MetroFuture plan, build new tools and models for its local partners, conduct regional and state-level policy advocacy, build the capacity of local advocates and leaders, and measure the region’s progress towards achieving our goals.
There’s a great deal to be done to build the Greater Boston region so many are working towards, even with an additional $4 million! We are excited to have our work recognized as a national model by HUD, and look forward to rolling up our sleeves and getting started. To learn more about Metro Boston’s Sustainable Communities application and keep up-to-date on our progress, please visit www.mapc.org/metrofuture/sustainable-communities.