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Needham walks the talk

Posted on October 19, 2016

Go to the five-minute mark to hear Devra Bailin's remarks on the link between housing and economic development.

DEVENS, June 15, 2016 --- The Massachusetts Housing Partnership (MHP) recognized the Town of Needham this week with a Housing Hero Award for its efforts to promote economic development and housing in the area of town known as Needham Crossing.

The town was recognized at an awards luncheon at MHP’s 10th annual Housing Institute, a two-day training conference for local officials and volunteers. Each year, MHP recognizes communities and individuals for excellence in affordable housing and economic development.

Needham was honored for making a successful case that that convinced town meeting voters to OK a zoning overlay district that will allow up to 250 apartments to be built in the Needham Crossing commercial zone near Rt. 128. The bylaw requires that 12 percent of the apartments be affordable.

“We are recognizing Needham this year for its efforts in making a solid case for housing as economic development,” MHP Executive Director Clark Ziegler told the audience of over 100 local officials at the June 15 awards luncheon at the Devens Commons Center.  “Needham didn’t’ have to do this as 10 percent of its housing is already affordable. They were forward thinking and took that next step.”

Ziegler also praised the town’s decision to hire a consultant to estimate potential fiscal impacts and modify the zoning proposal accordingly.  The consultant estimated that 250 apartments would produce a net financial benefit to the town of $350,000 per year.

Accepting the award for Needham was economic development director, Devra Bailin. “What made this bylaw a reality was that town leaders and voters recognize that providing adequate housing is economic development,” said Bailin. “We understand that providing sufficient multi-family housing for workers or seniors is necessary for the continued development of our economic engine at Needham Crossing.”

Needham was one of four to receive Housing Hero Awards. Also honored were the Town of Concord, Connie Kruger of Amherst and Paul Ruchinskas, former housing specialist for the Cape Cod Commission.

MHP is a self-supporting public agency that works with state government, civic and community leaders to increase the supply of affordable housing across the Commonwealth. It provides technical assistance to communities, housing authorities and nonprofits, long-term loans for multi-family housing and partners with banks to offer the ONE Mortgage Program for first-time buyers. For more information, go to