New Community Group Established to Improve Housing Policy in New Bedford
Access to housing is a foundational component of a prosperous society. Decades of studies show a direct correlation between an individual's housing security and their education, earning potential, and likelihood to avoid or end up in the criminal justice system.
Despite this, housing availability and affordability remains one of the most pervasive of equity issues, not just in the Commonwealth, but across the country, and the situation is particularly dire in New Bedford. According to the 2020 Census, the city has gained over 6,000 residents in the previous decade, but has lost approximately 2,000 housing units.
Newly-elected New Bedford City Councilor at Large Shane Burgo recognized this and made it a key issue in the platform that elevated him to the Council Chambers last fall. In recognition of Burgo's dedication to improving New Bedford's housing situation, he was tapped by Council President Ian Abreu to be chair of the first City Council Committee on Affordable Housing and Homeless Affairs, and he's using this new position to take action.
Burgo has partnered with Carl Alves, President of PAACA, to establish the Housing Options for Momentum and Equity (H.O.M.E.) Group, a community planning group established to improve and execute policies that will meet New Bedford's biggest housing challenges. Burgo said there are many great organizations working on homelessness and the H.O.M.E Group will work to empower them.
"A lot of times we always think of reinventing the wheel, we don't need to do that," Burgo said when he joined me on-air recently. "There are so many organizations doing the work, and we just need to help uplift them."
Burgo hopes that the discussions and policy proposals from the H.O.M.E Group will then be brought to the city council via his committee so that the council can work on crafting legislation to address housing issues within their purview. While on-air, Burgo provided an outline of the topics they will discuss in their first meeting.
"We want to first and foremost identify housing-related indicators, such as available housing stock, new unit development and other key data that tells the story of housing stock in New Bedford," he said. "We want to identify and discuss unmet housing needs in the community. Identify and discuss projects and plans currently in place to meet our housing needs, and of course, celebrate the success as needs are being meet and discuss emerging needs as they come along."
The H.O.M.E. Group will hold its first meeting Wednesday, June 1, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Keith Middle School, located at 225 Hathaway Boulevard in New Bedford. All are welcome to attend. Questions or comments can be sent via email to Councilor Burgo at Shane.Burgo@newbedford-ma.gov, or to Carl Alves at calves@PAACA.org.
You can listen to Councilor Burgo's full interview on The Marcus Ferro Show at the 13:30 mark below.