Creating Healthy, Thriving Neighborhoods in Massachusetts

Great Neighborhoods bill strengthens local neighborhoods for all

For a neighborhood to truly thrive, it needs healthy people, a healthy environment, and a healthy economy with opportunities for all. That’s why CLF, along with our partners in the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance, are working to strengthen local neighborhoods in ways that work better for everyone ­– especially seniors, families, and young people. Together, we have filed the Great Neighborhoods legislation, which is aimed at ensuring the places we call home are vibrant, welcoming, and healthy.

This bill already has strong support in the Massachusetts Senate and House, but we need your help to ensure it makes it over the finish line.

We Need New Development Rules to Meet Neighborhood Challenges

Massachusetts cities and towns are facing significant challenges. In the past seven years, the state’s population has grown by nearly a quarter million residents – but just 81,000 units of new housing have been permitted. And less than half of the state’s cities and towns have approved buildings with five or more units over the last decade-plus. As a result, we’ve seen home prices and rents soar, segregation and discrimination in housing, and sprawl.

Sprawl isn’t just ugly – it impacts our economy, our environment, and our climate. Every day, 13 acres of open space are lost to sprawl in Massachusetts. The average single-family lot in Metro Boston is larger than a professional football field.

Development like this leads people to drive more often and farther – increasing our greenhouse gas emissions and fueling climate change. At the same time, we are grappling with the climate impacts we know are coming – erratic weather, extreme heat, sea level rise, and heavy downpours. But many Massachusetts cities and towns lack the flexibility needed in their zoning laws to make necessary changes to the way land is used in order to mitigate climate impacts.

We need more, better, and equitable housing choices. We need more vibrant, walkable downtowns. And we need healthy communities that protect us from climate change. We need development rules for a new generation.

The Great Neighborhoods Bill Will Help

The Great Neighborhoods bill aims to reform our state’s planning, zoning, and permitting laws to:

  • Allow people to find affordable homes so they can stay in their communities;
  • Create more walkable neighborhoods;
  • Curb urban sprawl and protect the environment;
  • Attract development that will create jobs and sustain our economy;
  • Combat discrimination and encourage welcoming communities.

We have strong support in the Senate and the House, but we can’t succeed without you. Take action – join the Great Neighborhoods Campaign and call your senators to ask for their support on this bill.

Before you go... CLF is working every day to create real, systemic change for New England’s environment. And we can’t solve these big problems without people like you. Will you be a part of this movement by considering a contribution today? If everyone reading our blog gave just $10, we’d have enough money to fund our legal teams for the next year.