Affordable Housing, Development and other Revenue Streams
In order to build a healthy Plymouth, we need to create housing opportunities that accommodate and promote our demographically diverse community. Plymouth is a community with income and age diversity that includes singles starting out in careers, elderly couples on a fixed income, working families, retirees, and mixed couples. A variety of housing opportunities makes a community attractive, sustainable and critical to the town’s economic health. The average age in Plymouth is 44.
First, we need to prioritize promoting inclusionary, mixed-income housing by:
Pushing for 40-60% mix Area Median Income (AMI). Currently, the AMI is at 80% of the median income of Boston, not Plymouth. Plymouth income doesn’t match the income of Boston or the larger cities. It’s an antiquated formula. We could;
- Mix of property tax and one-time costs to developers to increase the size of the affordable housing trust fund.
- Using more Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) and Low Income base investors
Second, promote first-time home buyers programs in Massachusetts so purchasers can get low interest rate loans, down payment assistance. We can do this by working closely with the Massachusetts Housing Partnership.
- Advocating for the creation of local grant funded subsidies for first time home buyers
Third, we need to support affordable housing and mixed-use development that supports small business, community development, and a sustainable local economy. This requires:
- Flexible zoning that allows for various types of land uses, including: office, light industrial, residential, and manufacturing. This zoning should create residential convenience thus creating a framework for beneficial jobs with livable wages for Plymouth residents.
- Encourage land revitalization of older or low use commercial development properties to reduce sprawl.
- Pursuing available state grant funding for affordable development initiatives.
- Supporting land use policies and design practices that respect the uniqueness of both developed and natural environments.
Ultimately, housing can only be affordable if we have the infrastructure to support the development in Plymouth. We are responsible to current and future residents to require and ensure meaningful community land use agreements. This means:
- Soliciting community input;
- Establishing and communicating infrastructure planning and total costs associated with newer developments.
Thus, the fiscal health of Plymouth is linked closely with affordable housing for residents. In order to make sure we are maintaining a fiscally healthy Plymouth, we need to continue to support a separate stabilization fund that will be earmarked for proactive investment into infrastructure that assists with maintenance, modernization and further construction costs. We need to work collaboratively across the Town to create and implement sustainable and concrete tax policies.
Blue Economy is a sustainable development approach to coastal resources. Per Forbes, “The blue economy is a source of economic growth – not just a way to protect the environment but also a source of food, jobs, and water. The World Wildlife Fund estimates that if the ocean were a country, it would have the seventh largest economy in the world.”
The town of Plymouth has a total area of 134 square miles of which 37.5 square miles of it is water. Neighboring communities have begun to implement this sustainable year round economic opportunity to diversify their economy, from the North shore to varying blue corridors of the Cape and New Bedford area.
The five main focus areas of a blue economy:
Aquaculture: Farming of fish, shellfish, marine plants
Coastal and Maritime tourism: Ferries, yachts, sm cruises
Marine biotechnology: Pharmaceuticals, research, marine science
Renewable energy: offshore wind, biofuel
Mineral resources: gravel, sand
How this can be instrumental to Plymouth’s economy:
- Transport via waterways as a means to increase tourism
- Increases revenue to the town
- Supports our small businesses
- Jobs: fisheries, ship building and repair, cruise/ferry/tourism
- Academia and industry
- Workforce development: blue career centers
Baker-Polito Administration Announces $6.4 Million in Grants to 6 Communities and 4 Educational Institutions to Support and Modernize the Maritime Economy | Mass.gov
Currently in the Cape the Blue economy represents 12% of jobs and 11% of gross revenue. Regionally this equated to 1,872 businesses with 20,530 employees, accounting for $1.4 billion in gross revenues.
Implementation Plan Report | Cape Cod Blue Economy Foundation (bluecapecod.org)
I believe that climate change is real and the impacts of that change are already being experienced here in Plymouth.
It is now pretty clear that climate change influenced disruptions, damages and destruction will bring increasing economic, environmental, social challenges to Plymouth. Examples include the over $1 million dollar cost of the repairs to Manomet Point Road after the three March 2018 nor’easters. Or the summer drought of 2019 where some of our public wells came close to running out of water.
Climate resilience in its most simple definition means that our people and Town, as individuals and a community, will have the ability to ‘bounce back’ from these events and changes. Cultivating a more resilient town is an ecological and moral imperative, and an opportunity to flourish, to reduce if not eliminate the concentrated risks facing the most vulnerable among us.
Last year, the Plymouth Open Space Committee issued a report entitled “Town of Plymouth Open Space and Recreation Plan Addendum – Climate Change Resiliency .
That document spelled out a long list of what we can expect the Health & Safety and Quality of Life Impacts of Climate Change on Plymouth to be.
HEALTH AND SAFETY concerns including – Air pollution; Allergens; Wildfires; Temperature Extremes; Increased Precipitation; Increasing Storm Intensity; Water Quality; Mental Health and Stress-related Disorders; Sea Level Rise; Superfund site compromises, and in one extreme, the problems related to the storage of radioactive waste that is being stored 30 feet about current sea level at the decommissioned Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant.
QUALITY OF LIFE impacts include many direct and indirect effects of Economic Security involving
- Fresh Water Resources
- Fishing and Aquaculture
- Food Security
- Property Values
- Insurance Rates
- Biodiversity and Plymouth’s ecological resources
Two years ago, the Town secured a grant from the State climate adaptation program called the MVP or Municipal Vulnerability Program. Those funds helped deepen the Town’s understanding of climate change and climate resilience. Joining the MVP program opened the door to future grants to help Plymouth further prepare for climate change impacts. Results of a second grant to examine how rising sea levels may cause salt water to infiltrate public and private wells is pending.
The Town has just signed on to a partnership with Kingston and Duxbury to seek additional support to address climate change.
Last, on Tuesday, July 20th, the Select Board strengthened the Town’s commitment to tackling the challenges Climate Change is bringing to Plymouth.
- Declared Climate Change to be an existential threat to Plymouth;
- Called for the creation of a Climate Resiliency / Sustainable Planner to increase both the pace and focus of planning on building climate change resiliency;
- Agreed to direct more attention and action toward ‘nature-based’ climate change solutions by protecting more open lands; and
- Authorized Plymouth to become a partner in the tri-town MVP grant proposal to elevate the public’s understanding and engagement in climate change resilience policies and practices.
As a Select Person, I will strongly support all efforts to address climate change challenges, including the four Select Board adopted climate change policies. I will also encourage, and be involved in, all efforts to develop a Climate Resilience Plan that will spell out, and then implement strategies to adapt and mitigate as many climate change impacts as possible.
If this past year has taught us anything it is that human life is invaluable and inaction is costly. Whether that be safety, health, preparedness, and prevention. We need to continue to be proactive and broaden the scope of what we deem Public Health to include. We need to look at our current policies, plans and capacity.
Last year I had the opportunity to be one of the foundational partners of Brockton’s Health Equity Task Force where multiple members of the community as well as those outside who were serving the community in some capacity joined together to assist in tackling the challenges surrounding Covid and other public health concerns. In that experience I was given the opportunity to not only work alongside others but create the mission statement that guided our work. I took some of what I learned and suggested the same for our school district and in Fall of last year the district created their own task force.
Capacity Building for Community Preparedness
Community Health Task Force
Create a coalition of partners to develop a working relationship with the local town government to increase inclusionary and consistent practices within public health and emergency planning.
The Partners to include but are not limited to:
- Board of Health
- School District
- Police/ Fire
- Local Businesses
- Housing Authority
- Community advocates : Plymouth HEAL, SSCAC, Plymouth Area Coalition for the Homeless
- Center on Aging
- Town Precinct Chairs
- Relevant Town Committees: Open Space
Mission: To identify gaps and develop plans with strong stakeholder input that aims at creating solutions to short and long term issues surrounding emergent and future public health concerns. It is an opportunity to compare knowledge, assess issues in a collaborative manner and implement clear policies and practices that improve the health and well-being of the community.