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MHP recognizes Bergman as Housing Hero

Posted on June 27, 2019

(Since 2011, MHP's Housing Institute holds an awards luncheon on its second day and recognizes communities and individuals for their efforts to create affordable housing. On June 6, 2019, longtime municipal professional Keith Bergman was one of four to receive an MHP Housing Hero Award. Presenting the award was Tim McGourthy, deputy undersecretary for the state's Executive Office for Housing and Economic Development. Here are his remarks.)

If MHP’s Housing Institute gave out an award for best-dressed, Keith Bergman would contend every year. But, let the record show, MHP has never considered doing such a thing. MHP will however recognize Keith for another honor he’s suited for – he’s an MHP Housing Hero.

Bergman could’ve won this award every year. He distinguished himself for getting affordable housing done in 17 years as Provincetown’s town manager and in 11 years as Littleton’s town administrator. He has also demonstrated strong leadership at the regional level.

A native of Danvers, Bergman provided an early hint that his career would have a housing focus when, at age 22 and fresh out of Vanderbilt, he ran to be a town meeting member on a platform that included affordable housing. He lost. “The voters didn’t want to hear that,” Bergman recalls.

After getting his master’s in city and regional planning from Harvard, Bergman embarked on a 40-year career in local government service. After working in Nantucket, North Andover and Scituate, he settled in as town manager in Provincetown. Here, Bergman made his mark. Here are some highlights:

  • The town adopted zoning to promote more affordable housing.
  • It OK’d the Community Preservation Act, with a by-law designating 80% of CPA funds for housing.
  • It contributed $1 million in CPA funds to support the preservation and redevelopment of the Seashore Point assisted living, independent living, and a skilled nursing care facility.
  • Used $1 million in CPA funds to purchase land from Cumberland Farms at a donated half price and then conveyed that land to The Community Builders for the construction of the 50 affordable apartments.

Michelle Jarusiewicz witnessed Bergman’s influence first-hand in a variety of town roles, including as Provincetown's assistant town manager. “Keith thinks outside the box and doesn’t take no for an answer,” she said. 

In 2007, Bergman took his expertise to Littleton where he helped the town make similar strides and boost its affordable housing total to almost 13 percent. In addition to the multifamily housing built during his tenure, the town’s achievements include:

  • Greater focus on density near commuter rail, the traditional village center and other commercial areas.
  • Adoption of a by-right accessory dwelling bylaw, an inclusionary zoning bylaw, and a municipal affordable housing trust.
  • Amended a senior residential development bylaw to make it a more effective tool to help Littleton residents remain in the community as they age.
  • First Town to adopt the “blended” CPA, which allows local revenues to be added to CPA funds, increasing the base for state matching funds. 
  • First Town to apply for Gov. Baker’s Housing Choice Program and one of the first to receive that designation.

Bergman has also been a leader at the regional level. He is Immediate Past President of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) who spoke at the launch of the Governor’s Housing Choice initative and has testified two years in a row in support of the bill.

Bergman chaired a sub-region of MAPC that formed a regional housing services office to monitor subsidized housing inventories in Hudson Boxborough, Bolton, Littleton, Stow, and Devens.

Bergman retired in 2018 but his legacy remains. Said consultant Judi Barrett, who did Littleton’s master plan. “Keith brought a lot of energy to Littleton and a sense that it could do things. You could hear Keith’s voice in the town’s perspective.”

The bottom line: Keith may be a good dresser, but his strong suit is affordable housing. Please join me in congratulating Keith Bergman on being a 2019 MHP Housing Hero.

Read about the other 2019 MHP Housing Heroes:

Great Barrington

City of Salem

DHCD's Phil DeMartino