AHSEI Pilot Program

Across the country, market demand for walkable neighborhoods is driving up housing and commercial costs. How can communities capitalize on this demand and create great neighborhoods that are attainable and equitable for all people?

LOCUS’ new Attainable Housing and Social Equity Initiative (AHSEI) Pilot Program is a private sector, place-based approach designed to address this challenge. As part of the Pilot Program, LOCUS will be selecting a number of U.S. cities to participate in strategies aimed at encouraging economic growth while ensuring accessibility and social equity in great walkable urban places.

The first of these cities is Somerville, MA, where our work kicked off at a public meeting in July. Somerville is a mixed-income city that is benefiting from its proximity to Cambridge and Boston and its growing hi-tech industry. The community’s hope to encourage new growth while maintaining its mixed-income character offers a particularly relevant context to study accessibility and social equity trends. As we detailed in our March 2015 report The WalkUP Wake-Up Call: Boston, the Boston metro region is poised to lead the nation in the creation of new walkable urban places. One of these places is Union Square, where high demand for great walkable urban places and recent influx of private investment has motivated communities like Somerville to look for ways to harness the economic potential of walkable urban places while achieving and managing a level of accessibility and affordability for residents and businesses.

In partnership with the Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis at the George Washington University (GWU) and funded by the Barr Foundation, LOCUS will work closely with local community groups, businesses, and stakeholders in Union Square, including the Union Square Community Advisory Committee, to facilitate the Union Square Public Benefits Process. City of Somerville representatives approached LOCUS to facilitate these efforts after reading the WalkUP Wake-Up Call: Boston report, which shows that the Boston region is poised to lead the nation in the expansion and creation of new walkable places. The Union Square Public Benefits Process, LOCUS’ first AHSEI Pilot, will serve as a model for developing sustainable place-based strategies that balance the market demand for great walkable urban places with the need for jobs, housing, open space and transportation that are attainable and accessible to all Somervillians.

LOCUS plans to work with a number of other cities throughout the U.S. to develop individualized approaches to managing social equity as new investment continues to pour in to the nation’s walkable urban places. In each of its AHSEI pilot cities, LOCUS will create a sustainable framework to provide affordable housing and commercial space, job opportunities and workforce training, local business support, and public spaces for the community to enjoy. To learn more, please visit our Union Square Public Benefits Process FAQs or our Somerville Union Square Briefing Book.