City of Newton–13 Villages 1 Community
As a real estate professional and a Newton citizen I applaud the efforts of Mayor Setti Warren, Newton Alderman, other elected officials, community leaders, and residents who have partnered to present a strong call to action to improve services in our city and problem solve the housing crises. The Newton’s Mayor Setti Warren Housing Report is an off shoot of the primary report, Newton Leads 2040.
Historically, the City of Newton is a patchwork of diverse villages each with its own unique look and feel. The city in its entirety is approximately the 11th largest city in Massachusetts. The beauty of having the economies of scale that come with a large population combined with advantages of small neighborhoods defined by village centers has not come without a price. With so many sectors, it can be difficult to gain consensus on large developments, for example.
The Housing Problem
Because of shifting demographics along with rising home values, aging seniors and entry level home buyers, as well as moderate income sectors are being squeezed out of housing options due to lack of inventory.
The Housing Solution
Community leaders must work to gain buy-in from citizens for possible solutions. Please note: citizens include those builders who contribute to the fiscal health of our city.
Newton Leads 2040 Housing Strategy–The Data Speaks
Using data driven analysis, the report begins with a picture of where we are now. For example, the increase of older residents compared to the decline in the number of younger residents, a significant increase in the number of residents in the 55+ bracket.
13 Villages 1 Community
Single family home prices have risen significantly since 2003. As of the date of the report 2016, the median selling price of a Newton single family home is $1.1M. There is a lack of housing stock for those looking to downsize, those first time home buyers seeking entry level housing, and those who work in the city. This extreme demand creates a demand that affects housing development patterns.
“Simply put, the scarcity of land in Newton is motivating the development community to maximize the lots they can acquire.” ~Newton Housing Strategy
The report makes a strong case for a change in the housing development strategy city wide. Rather than building more large houses for fewer people, Newton needs bridge the gap and promote the development of more smaller houses for the younger, older, and other diverse and growing sectors of our population.
Newton Leads 2040, a Blueprint to Promote Affordable Diverse housing & Economic Growth
THIS IS THE BEGINNING OF A CONVERSATION TO GUIDE US FORWARD ON POLICIES TO PRESERVE WHAT WE LOVE ABOUT OUR CITY – THE SUBURBAN FEEL, VILLAGE AMENITIES, AND OPEN SPACES – AND TO ENHANCE OUR POSITION AS A CITY OF OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL.” ~Mayor Setti Warren in his Newton Leads 2040 Housing Strategy
The report sites specific zones described as “well-suited’ for housing developments.
- Site availability and redevelopment potential
- Site ownership
- Immediate context of uses/adjacencies
- Overall suitability of the land
- Preservation or creation of open green spaces
- Transit accessibility
- Walk-able locations to commercial services
Create a Better Process
To properly move forward, the Mayor’s report requests the following protocols:
- Develop community engagement with City Council
- Identify a process for identifying affordable and diverse housing opportunities
- Make policy changes to support housing development, preserve affordability
- Develop financial tools to support affordable housing, housing for homeless individuals and families.
The report targets 10 priority Actions. One such example is the Newton Center “Triangle Lot” targeted as a possible mixed use, mixed-income housing. Number of estimated units is TBD.
The overarching study, Newton Leads 2040, is a data driven report covering broken into several categories of focus, such as Financial Sustainability, Excellence in Education, Economic Growth and Entrepreneurship, Public Safety, Environmental Sustainability, and more. Housing is a common thread throughout many of the major categories. Read the full report.
Livable Sustainable Newton
Newton Leads 2040 is a call to action for all in our community to partner with us and with one another to continue to make our education system, public safety, infrastructure, environment and city services the best they can be. Newton Leads 2040 will also promote partnership and engagement of residents and civic leaders to ensure we have affordable housing, diverse housing, multi-modal transportation, robust entrepreneurship and growth in the innovation economy that will meet the needs of our citizens over the next 25 years. ~www.NewtonMA.Gov
We can be grateful to the many community leaders who have the vision and drive to bring our city forward to a better future and survive the current housing crises.