The Massachusetts Housing Partnership (MHP) recognized the Town of Needham this week with a Housing Hero Award for its efforts to promote economic development and housing in the Needham Crossing and Wexford Street sections of the N-Squared Innovation Corridor.
The town was recognized June 15 an awards luncheon at MHP's 10th annual Housing Institute. Each year, MHP recognizes communities and individuals for excellence in affordable housing and economic development.
Needham was honored for making a successful case that that convinced town meeting voters to OK a zoning overlay district that will allow up to 250 apartments to be built in the Wexford Street section of the N-Squared Corridor near I-95. The bylaw requires that 12 percent of the apartments be affordable.
This up-zoning is separate from the a 136-unit project on Greendale Avenue in Needham and a 390-unit Normandy project in Needham Crossing that have already been approved for the N-Squared Corridor area.
"We are recognizing Needham this year for its efforts in making a solid case for housing as economic development," said MHP Executive Director Clark Ziegler. "Needham didn't' have to do this as 10 percent of its housing is already affordable. They were forward thinking and took that next step."
Ziegler also praised the town's decision to hire a consultant to estimate potential fiscal impacts and modify the zoning proposal accordingly. The consultant estimated that 250 apartments would produce a net financial benefit to the town of $350,000 per year.
Accepting the award for Needham was economic development director, Devra Bailin. "What made this bylaw a reality was that town leaders and voters recognize that providing adequate housing is economic development," said Bailin.
Needham was one of four to receive Housing Hero Awards. Also honored were the Town of Concord, Connie Kruger of Amherst and Paul Ruchinskas, former housing specialist for the Cape Cod Commission.
MHP is a self-supporting public agency that works with state government, civic and community leaders to increase the supply of affordable housing across the Commonwealth. It provides technical assistance to communities, housing authorities and nonprofits, long-term loans for multi-family housing and partners with banks to offer the ONE Mortgage Program for first-time buyers. For more information, go towww.mhp.net.