‘Affordable’ Haverhill Housing a Priority in 2018, Insist City Officials

Members of Haverhill's City Council took their oath of office during Monday's Inauguration Ceremony. (WHAV News photograph)

Tuesday is the first day back to work in 2018 and already Haverhill’s City Council is carving out its priorities for the year. Chief among them, says newly-elected Council Vice President Thomas J. Sullivan, is affordable housing.

As he explained in his New Year’s Day inaugural address, housing is just as important as public safety and education.

City Council Vice President Thomas J. Sullivan offers remarks at Monday's ceremony.

“There is so much that can and will be said about the issues facing our city in the coming year and beyond,” Sullivan said in his inaugural address Monday. “I have always strived to do my best to make the right decisions to make our city safer, our public school system stronger, our economic revitalization efforts moving in the right direction, our parks and recreational facilities better for all our citizens and especially for our student/athletes--among other things--while always being mindful that one of the most important things we must do is keep Haverhill affordable for everyone who chooses to make our city their home.”

Sullivan has the full backing of Mayor James J. Fiorentini, who included housing on his list of master plan to-dos for 2018. As part of Haverhill’s downtown revitalization, 600 new housing units were created—but the work is just beginning, said Fiorentini.

As the Mayor explained, the housing crunch and rising rents aren’t just a ‘Haverhill problem.’

Mayor James J. Fiorentini speaks at Monday's Inauguration.

“We see this problem of the future starting to manifest itself now, as prices for sales and rentals are rising rapidly and young families, our future, are finding it more and more difficult to find a place to move here. We run the risk of pricing our children and grandchildren out of the city, and making the American dream of home ownership unattainable. “

Massachusetts’ housing prices have increased at the fastest rate in the nation, with the average state rent 20 percent higher than the national average.

The city intends to lean on resources provided by the Baker-Polito administration as part of the new Housing Choice Initiative. In addition, Fiorentini will enlist a panel of experts and city residents, to address a myriad of concerns in his re-zoning strategy.

“Building the Haverhill of the future cannot be built on the back of envelope or by tackling one problem without thinking of others,” said Fiorentini.

Fiorentini’s new master plan is expected to take 10 months to complete.