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Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance;
After a pause during the Great Recession, housing costs began rising again as the shortage of homes identified in 2001 began to widen. In some degree, this is because of nationwide changes that have increased demand for apartments and homes on small lots, especially in walkable, transit-connected places. But Greater Boston is also a victim of its own success. The many attractive characteristics of our region are drawing new households by the thousands. Young adults are forming new families and older residents are less likely to flee to Florida and Arizona. Overall, the population of the region is growing – in fact, Massachusetts is the fastest growing state in the Northeast. The disinvestment and population declines of earlier decades have been reversed, and the benefits are overwhelmingly positive. But, if housing supply cannot keep up with demand, these gains could be lost.
From 2010 to 2017, the Metropolitan Boston region added 245,000 new jobs, a 14 percent increase. Yet according to the best data available, cities and towns permitted only 71,600 housing units over that same time period, growth of only 5.2 percent. When supply of new housing does not keep pace with the growing demand created by new workers and young adults forming new households, there is more competition for the existing units. Low rental vacancy rates (just above half of normal) and low for-sale inventory (just above a third of normal) make it a landlord and sellers' market, allowing them to charge top dollar to the highest bidder. Continued demand for labor, driven by economic growth and the retirement of the Baby Boomers is likely to continue driving strong population growth and housing demand well into the future. Compounding the issue is the fact that Baby Boomers will continue to need housing well after they retire, but are stuck in large single family homes because there are very few affordable options to downsize.
For more information: https://ma-smartgrowth.org/resources/resourcesreports-books/
A challenge for artists and funders in this intersectional work is to advance both aesthetic and community aims. How do programs balance community development needs and goals with opportunities for artists to experiment? What kinds of supports are needed to help community partners, crucial to the impact of the work, fully engage with artists? What services best support artists who are building their capacity for public realm production and community engagement? What funding strategies and practice standards help ensure projects that meet high marks for both aesthetic achievement and community value?
In the spirit of advancing field dialogue in this arena, Americans for the Arts and the Barr Foundation are happy to share the findings of a National Scan of Programs Supporting Art in the Public Realm. The scan, while not intended to be comprehensive, highlights overarching themes and offers snapshots of 30 programs supporting and building capacity for artists to work in the public realm. Detailed summaries from interviews with seven selected programs provide additional insights.
This scan was conducted to inform future directions of the New England Foundation for the Arts' (NEFA) Creative City program. Creative City's pilot phase offered direct support for artists at varied stages of experience and career to exercise their creative power to excite the public imagination and engage Boston's diverse communities. A report on Creative City's pilot phase and videos highlighting its value and impact in Boston can be found at: nefa.org/CreativeCityLearning.
Boston Green Ribbon Commission;
Carbon Free Boston was developed through comprehensive engagement with City staff, utilities, neighboring municipalities, regional authorities, state agencies, industry experts, and community representatives, among others, and was supported by comprehensive analysis using models that project feasible pathways to carbon neutrality by 2050. To ensure meaningful and actionable outcomes, we looked across scales and considered opportunities and challenges associated with specific actions at the city, state, and regional levels. We also addressed disparities in communities' capacity both to mitigate climate damages and to benefit from the transition to a carbon-neutral city.
Supporting technical reports and other resources are also available on the project web site: http://sites.bu.edu/cfb/
Boston Green Ribbon Commission;
This Carbon Free Boston: Social Equity Report provides a deeper equity context for Carbon Free Boston as a whole, and for each strategy area, by demonstrating how inequitable and unjust the playing field is for socially vulnerable Bostonians and why equity must be integrated into policy design and implementation. This report summarizes the current landscape of climate action work for each strategy area and evaluates how it currently impacts inequity. Finally, this report provides guidance to the City and partners on how to do better; it lays out the attributes of an equitable approach to carbon-neutrality, framed around three guiding principles:
1) plan carefully to avoid unintended consequences
2) be intentional in design through a clear equity lens
3) practice inclusivity from start to finish.
Sustainable Solutions Lab University of Massachusetts, Boston;
As this report indicates, implementing CRB is necessary but not sufficient to prepare Boston's built environment for the freshwater and coastal flooding anticipated to result from climate change. Additional steps we must take include reforming existing tools, monitoring and evaluating flood adaptation activities, and establishing governance for district-scale coastal flood protection implementation. This report presents an array of options for moving forward. Over the next year or so, the City and relevant stakeholders will need to come together and decide which, if any, of these options provide the best paths forward for a more resilient city and region.
We recommend that the Governor of Massachusetts and the Mayor of Boston establish a joint commission to explore the options and determine a path forward. There is an opportunity for us to learn from the transition to clean energy as we prepare for climate change impacts. We recommend that the legislature take a leadership role in this effort as well, in order to evaluate the different options available to the Commonwealth as we attempt to address this dynamic challenge.
As home to America's first subway, Boston has been a transit-oriented city for more than a century. In fact, much of our regional economic success is due to the connectivity that a transit system provides. It is no coincidence that the area served by the MBTA houses almost 70 percent of the state's population, offers 74 percent of the jobs, and generates 84 percent of Massachusetts's gross domestic product. The MBTA is the backbone of our economy and any successful strategy for continued growth and prosperity for the region must begin with smart investment in this system.
Luckily, the calculus is straightforward as the benefits from our transit system far outweigh the costs we dedicate to support it. A new report from A Better City, made possible through support from both the Barr Foundation and The Boston Foundation, measured the MBTA's performance and economic impact. It found that through travel time and cost savings, vehicular crashes avoided and reduced auto emissions, the MBTA provides an estimated $11.4 billion in value to Greater Boston each year for both transit users and non-users alike. Boston residents experience all of these benefits from the T's annual operating budget of approximately $2 billion.
The report also considered the alternative, examining what would it cost if our transit system did not exist. Our economy would require the capital cost of nearly 2,300 additional lane miles of roads and 400,000 more parking spaces. If we needed to build that today, the cost for this vehicular infrastructure would be over $15 billion. The MBTA is a bargain today and for the future.
Diane V. Espaldon Strategic Consulting;
The Barr-Klarman Arts Capacity Building Initiative ("BKI") was created and funded by the Barr Foundation ("Barr") and The Klarman Family Foundation ("KFF") and managed by nonprofit research and consulting group TDC. Launched in early 2012 by the Barr Foundation, with The Klarman Family Foundation joining in partnership shortly thereafter, the Initiative sought to support the artistic quality and long-term strength of select arts and cultural institutions in Boston. BKI served 30 organizations across three cohorts –1) large/mid-size, 2) small/mid-size and 3) youth arts mastery organizations. The Initiative focused on four capacity areas:
1.Role of effective capitalization
3.Defining and achieving arts mastery outcomes with youth
4.Growing cultural competency and proficiency.
Over five years, the Initiative invested over $22 million through multi-year grants, knowledge-building activities, and technical assistance. At the time of the Initiative's design, both foundations were in an early phase of building their arts programs and were also new to collaborating with each other, so while the Initiative had broad goals and principles, it also retained an approach of adaptation to changing needs and learning along the way.
Building Movement Project;
The survey results highlighted in this report are of particular interest given the stark circumstances of inequality that characterize the Boston metropolitan region, where 55% of the Massachusetts subsample reported they worked. A 2017 Boston Globe poll found that more than half of African-American/Black respondents considered Boston unwelcoming to people of color, positioning it as the least welcoming of eight cities studied. The Globe's related series on race depicted Boston as a city deeply segregated in its key institutions, with little change for decades in the dominance of white power brokers over public and private decision-making roles and where public expenditures for development prioritize wealthy white constituencies.4 Steady growth in technology, health/life sciences, and other service sector industries has been accompanied by high and rising inequality. A 2016 Brookings Institute study ranked Boston the number one city for income inequality in the nation.5 Another study that year by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston found stark racial wealth gaps, with white households holding median wealth of $247,500 compared to near-zero wealth for U.S. Black and Dominican households.6 Meanwhile, the area's growth rests largely on immigrants and people of color, who make substantial contributions to the regional economy but reap fewer of its benefits.7 While these circumstances are especially stark in Boston, they reflect broad national trends, making the findings here potentially instructive beyond Massachusetts.
Technical Development Corp (TDC);
This document provides an overview of a financial health evaluation TDC conducted in 2017 to capture the financial health trends of a Boston-based cohort of arts organizations who participated in the Barr-Klarman Arts Capacity Building Initiative (2012-2017), a joint grant program of the Barr Foundation and The Klarman Family Foundation. TDC's financial health evaluation was designed to impart a clear financial picture of the cohort at the program's end, as well as complement the qualitative evaluation of the Initiative (2016-2017) led by Diane Espaldon and Sara Peterson.
The financial health evaluation measured the growth and scale of grantees' operations over the course of the Initiative; assessed cumulative financial health; and observed capitalization literacy. TDC evaluators provided each grantee with a capitalization assessment reflecting their organization's balance sheet and income statement trends over the course of the program. Grantees subsequently participated in a follow-up phone interview with TDC to discuss their financial results, and answer questions regarding the impact of the Initiative's capitalization training program on their strategic decision-making and financial goal-setting. With a sample of 30 organizations, TDC evaluated grantee financial performance in the context of each organization's individual goals, not against a cohort-wide benchmark. Cohort-wide trends were elicited from an aggregation of individual performance.
This summary document provides an overview of the Initiative's capitalization program, the capitalization framework TDC employed, and high-level results from the financial health evaluation.
Boston Harbor Now;
Boston Harbor Now (BHN) is coordinating a strategic planning study for water transportation, the Comprehensive Boston Water Transportation Study and Business Plan (the Comprehensive Plan). This work is being done on behalf of and with financial support from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport), the Seaport Economic Council of the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development (EOHED), Massachusetts Convention Center Authority (MCCA), the Barr Foundation, the Cabot Family Charitable Trust, Envoy Hotel, and Clippership Wharf. The aim of the work is to create the foundation for an expansion of the current water transportation system in Boston Harbor within a one- to five-year timeframe in order to accommodate current and future developments in the region and to enhance the use of the leisure and cultural amenities in Boston Harbor as well as providing an additional transit option for trips in the region.
This document is the third deliverable for the Comprehensive Plan. It focuses on the key characteristics of a ferry system that contribute to a successful service. This includes is a critical review of the strength and weaknesses of comparable ferry services with identified best practices and lessons learned for system implementation, organization, and operations with examples from systems in the continental United States as well as several systems from other countries. Five ferry systems are profiled in short case studies at the end of this document.
The document is structured to present the summary of these key characteristics of successful ferry services with healthy ridership, revenues, overall financial stability, and expanded transportation access, among other factors. A separate document prepared for the Water Transportation Strategy for the Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park will outline best practices for serving island parks with ferries.
For further information, please visit: https://www.bostonharbornow.org/what-we-do/work/water-transportation/water-transportation-study/
Applied Economics Clinic;
Community Choice Energy (CCE) allows a municipality to purchase electricity from a competitive supplieron behalf of participating electric customers. CCE would allow Boston to pool customers together, using this greater bargaining power to benefit customers in the City. In addition, through CCE, the City would purchase at least five percent more Class I renewable energy than required under the Commonwealth'sRenewable Energy Portfolio (RPS) law.
Currently, 127 cities and towns Massachusetts have adopted CCE—more than one-third of the 351 municipalities in the Commonwealth. Many municipalities that implement CCE procure five percent more renewable energy than is required by the Massachusetts RPS. Some are going even further, such as Brookline, which is purchasing 25 percent more renewable energy than required, and Greenfield, which is purchasing 100 percent renewables.
This report reviews commonly asked questions that the City should consider as it assesses whether to adopt this policy.
This report summarizes the main findings of the recent research, revisiting the reasons why addressing diversity and equity issues in the cultural sector matters more than ever and reviewing six key findings related to national and local patterns of funding distribution, the demographics of people making funding decisions, and the distinct issues facing cultural organizations whose primary artistic mission is to serve communities of color or low-income communities. It concludes with suggestions for how to speed progress toward a more inclusive and equitable system of cultural philanthropy.