Merrimack Valley Planning Commission to Tackle Rent and Homeownership Burdens

File photograph. (Image licensed by Ingram Image.)

As the state grapples with a housing crisis, the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission recently received state money to update strategies to reduce the burden of rent and homeownership for area residents.

The grants, from the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and Department of Housing and Community Development, allow the Haverhill-based planning agency to work with 14 Merrimack Valley communities to update plans created in 2018 that are due to expire over the next 18 months.

“Housing is of paramount importance to MVPC and our member communities,” said Executive Director Jerrard Whitten. “The development of appropriate, affordable housing of all types starts with intensive planning and comprehensive conversations with municipal officials, developers, business owners, and residents. The (Housing Production Plan) project will provide structure to those conversations, and help our region plan for smart, impactful housing production across the Merrimack Valley.”

Plans will analyze current housing and demographic conditions in each city and town and make recommendations for future changes based on housing needs. The planning process involves gathering input paired with an update of existing housing data. Plans will also provide recommendations for how cities and towns may increase both their affordable housing stock and housing of all types—from rental to ownership.

Community Planner Lauren Keisling said “This project will result in creating effective roadmaps for our region’s communities to expand their affordable housing stock and diversify their housing options to accommodate residents’ needs. Even more importantly, we look forward to closely engaging with residents across the Merrimack Valley by hearing their thoughts, suggestions, and lived experiences as the people who call this region home.”

Communities include Amesbury, Andover, Boxford, Georgetown, Groveland, Haverhill, Lawrence, Merrimac, Methuen, Newbury, North Andover, Rowley, Salisbury and West Newbury.

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