September 20, 2018

Worcester to conduct citywide housing study

Photo/Grant Welker
The Central Building, a seven story, 85,000-square-foot building at 322 Main St. in Worcester, is being renovated for 55 new housing units.

A new study slated to begin this fall will seek to compare best housing practices in Worcester and similar cities and to update a previous housing study done in 2012.

The Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Coordinating Council announced Wednesday that they've hired Mahesh Ramachandran of Smart Growth Economics to produce a city-wide housing study.

Ramachandran is the founder and CEO of Smart Growth Economics, a Cambridge company that works to help municipalities with complex policy decisions. Ramachandran earned his doctorate in economics from Clark University.

The housing study is aimed at providing Worcester officials with data to help find opportunities for affordable housing and new for-rent or for-sale home construction. The Economic Development Coordinating Council consists of the city of Worcester, the Worcester Business Development Corp., and Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives, which is based at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

The study is expected to begin in November and take nine months to complete.

Worcester's population has grown in recent years, even as the number of new housing units being built has slowed considerably.

The city's population today is roughly 186,000, up by 2.6 percent since the 2010 Census. The number of new housing units approved for construction each year, however, has fallen in the past 15 years by 88 percent.

A study by the U.S. Conference of Mayors projects the Worcester metropolitan area to grow from 936,700 people in 2016 to 1,025,300 within three decades. That would bring an additional 9.5 percent to the region.

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