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Our members are the local governments of Massachusetts and their elected and appointed leadership.
The city of Salem has released a four-part video series to help residents better understand the housing shortage and the importance of creating affordable housing policies for the culturally and economically diverse city.
“Homes for Salem,” produced by the city with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, is a part of a larger community conversation about housing challenges and possible solutions, said Mayor Kimberley Driscoll.
“It’s making people stop and think about what is happening in the community, especially those who may not be directly impacted,” Driscoll said. “It puts a face on the housing challenge by having those affected tell their story.”
The city has an Affordable Housing Trust Fund Board that is hosting well-attended public hearings, but not everyone can attend. The video series can be watched by anyone at any time.
The videos feature people who live and work in the city discussing their experiences with securing housing. The residents include a single mother, a teacher, an artist and a city firefighter.
One video focuses on the city’s cultural and economic growth in recent years, and how it has affected the availability of affordable housing.
The city is concerned that rising housing costs will force median-income households to look elsewhere for both rental and home ownership opportunities.
“Many communities in greater Boston are experiencing similar challenges, and people who may have previously been able to afford [housing in the region] can no longer,” Driscoll said.
She said the city is looking to pass an inclusionary zoning ordinance that would require new housing developments to include units at certain affordable price points to provide opportunity and access to people who do different kinds of jobs.
The city is also looking at accessory dwelling units, which can also help meet housing needs. They are allowed in Salem, but zoning restrictions make them difficult to build and occupy.
The city is also looking at ways to provide incentives for affordable housing development on city-owned land.
The video series discusses housing challenges, including the cost and availability of land in a dense city, and the cost of construction.
At the end of the video series, Mayor Driscoll says, “The housing demand in Salem and the needs of people living in our community housing is a moral issue at several different levels and it’s really important that we all lend a hand in helping address it.”