The Gateway Cities Journal
News and information for leaders who care about Gateway Cities


AG Candidate Maura Healey on Housing and the Gateway Cities


(Candidates for statewide office are invited to share their vision for the Gateway Cities ahead of the September 9 primaries. First up is Maura Healey, Democratic candidate for Attorney General.)


Over my seven years of leadership in the Attorney General's Office, no work was more important to me than our response to the subprime lending and foreclosure crisis across Massachusetts and particularly in our Gateway Cities.  As head of the Civil Rights Division, I brought the nation's first civil rights case by a state against a subprime lender, because our investigations proved that predatory loans were even worse in Gateway Cities and communities of color. We recovered millions on behalf of Massachusetts homeowners in communities from Fall River to Springfield to Lowell.


I also argued cases to stop housing discrimination and oversaw the Attorney General's HomeCorps program, which has helped stop foreclosures, stabilize neighborhoods, reduce vacancies, and keep people in their homes. The program has gotten banks to modify mortgages and deployed legal aid attorneys and counselors to hard-hit communities across Massachusetts many of which are in Gateway Cities.


I am proud of those achievements, but so much work remains. Foreclosure rates are far too high, and too many homeowners and renters are struggling with an unaffordable loan or an unsafe apartment. That is why I recently released a comprehensive plan to improve housing opportunities in Massachusetts. Here are a few of my ideas that would have a positive effect on the situation in our Gateway Cities.


Protecting homeowners facing foreclosure. Too often in our Gateway Cities, families are foreclosed upon and evicted illegally, even when they can pay what the property is worth. As Attorney General, I will allocate additional resources to HomeCorps to give these families a place to turn. I will enforce Massachusetts laws, which I fought hard to get passed, requiring banks to modify predatory mortgage loans. I will push for principal reduction to make mortgages affordable whenever possible and advocate for a new law giving foreclosed homeowners a right to rent their homes back from large financial institutions.


Fighting community blight and irresponsible landlords. The foreclosure crisis has left vacant homes across Massachusetts, increasing criminal activity, harming property values, and cutting into communities' tax bases. Again, much of the hardship falls on our Gateway Cities. As Attorney General, I will expand the work of the Abandoned Housing Initiative, through which the Attorney General compels property owners to rehabilitate blighted properties. I will take action against landlords who leave their rental units in uninhabitable conditions. And I will target banks and servicers that fail to maintain properties after foreclosure.


Expanding housing opportunities for low-income and otherwise disadvantaged families. Finding affordable housing remains a critical challenge for many families. As Attorney General, I will support efforts to reform our housing authorities to ensure that they work well for everyone. I will protect individuals with disabilities by advocating for increases in accessible and supportive housing. I will aggressively investigate and take action against irresponsible landlords who abuse or discriminate against their tenants. And I will promote the development of affordable rental housing throughout Massachusetts so that working families can stay in their communities.


If, like me, you care about improving housing opportunities for everyone in Massachusetts, I hope you will check out my full plan at


Maura Healey

Candidate for Massachusetts Attorney General



Transformative Development Fund


The Boston Business Journal lists the Gateway Cities as a major winner in the recently concluded legislative session in large part because of the creation of the $16 million Transformative Development Fund.


South Coast Today talks to Representative Antonio Cabral of New Bedford about the promise of the Transformative Development Fund included in the recently passed Economic Development Bill.


MassINC reviews the allocations for the Gateway Cities in the Economic Development Bill awaiting the Governor's signature.


Housing and Economic Development


Improvement plans for a 2.5 mile stretch entering Haverhill from New Hampshire are set at $5.7 million for repaving, new sidewalks and trees, with funds coming from the state and federal governments.


Fall River's Department of Housing and Community Development plans to entice developers with new tax credits and zoning.


Springfield Neighborhood Housing Services invites residents to a foreclosure prevention workshop highlighting the US Department of Housing and Urban Development's "Making Home Affordable" program. 


New Bedford developer Freidrich A. Miller, owner of the Webster Bank building purchases the adjacent Converse Photo Supply building, hoping to attract retail and residential tenants.


The $20 million, 84-unit Voke Apartments project in downtown Worcester is completed.


Fall River plans a $5 to $7 million revitalization of its downtown landscape in historic "back to the future" style.


Fitchburg Housing Authority looks to save $5.5 million through a solar deal.


Creative Placemaking

Following the allocation of $100,000 in state funds to New Bedford for cultural development, the city plans to host a Boston Pops Orchestra concert.


The city of Worcester plans a four-story mural by internationally acclaimed Massachusetts native Caleb Neelon for installation August 4-15.



The Gateway Cities Innovation Institute is proud to present Going for Growth: Enhancing the Economic Impact of Public Transit in Gateway Cities with Comprehensive Service Planning. This new policy brief examines how best practices in transit planning can benefit Massachusetts's Regional Transit Authorities. CommonWealth Magazine ran an article penned by the report's co-authors.


Reinhardt Associates of Agwam has been awarded the design for a new Pioneer Valley Transit Authority transit pavilion in Westfield



The Rotary Club of Pittsfield is raising money in conjunction with local high schools to assist Advanced Placement students with, among other costs, the $89 per exam fee.


Bristol Community College opens a new satellite learning center in Taunton's former Catholic Middle School.


Eight groups seek to open charter schools in cities including Brockton, Chicopee, Fitchburg, Salem, and Springfield.


The Massachusetts Teachers Association documents Taunton teachers' reflections on projects lost due to standardized test preparations, especially how the focus on testing is limiting more interesting and productive "21st Century" activities.



The Massachusetts Green High Performing Center has helped transform the Commonwealth into the nations' fourth greenest builder last year, and Holyoke is rapidly becoming a model of environmentally aware urban living, according to an op-ed from Mayor Alex Morse and former Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Richard Sullivan.


Gov. Patrick signs new energy bill to produce clean energy locally and keep costs down. The bill also creates a task force in Salem to assist with the decommissioning and deconstruction of the Salem Harbor Power Plant.


Massachusetts Supreme Court rules in the dispute over the power plant in Brockton, upholding the rights of "environmental justice" as a response to the "disproportionate burden of industrial pollution and lack of regulatory enforcement" in minority and low-income communities.



Visiting a neighborhood community health center in Brockton, Gov. Patrick discusses the administration's investment in affordable health care across the Commonwealth.


Worcester officials declare a public health emergency after a rash of deaths related to heroin mixed with an unknown substance, the Telegram & Gazette reports.


Communities / People

The Market Basket saga continues, with great effects on Gateway Cities, the Lowell Sun reports.


Springfield's CBS 3 reports on Rocca's expansion into Holyoke.


Lynn resident Noreen Maggio is honored at the White House for her efforts coordinating 25 congregations and institutions in support of minimum wage. Maggio represented ECCO, the Essex County Community Organization.


Senator Elizabeth Warren visits Girls Inc. and Eureka! summer program for female teens from Chicopee, Holyoke, and Springfield.



Boston Globe columnists Joanna Weiss profiles Mayor of Lawrence Dan Rivera, the city's "good guy" with a plan to "turn around a city that no one thought could be turned around." 


A Fitchburg panel decides, in a 7-0 vote, not to demolish or privatize the City Hall building, noting that keeping City Hall on Main Street is crucial for the city's downtown. 


For a full list of Massachusetts Gateway Cities, click here. The Gateway Cities Journal is a weekly news publication of MassINC. If you would like to unsubscribe to The Journal but would still like to hear from MassINC, please let us know. If you are not yet on our list and would like to sign up, click here. To contribute news or comments, please email MassINC.



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