BOSTON-A new $3 million pool of funds is being offered to help the state’s communities plan for new housing. Governor Mitt Romney’s administration says it expects the new funds to provide an incentive for town officials to plan new “Smart Growth” development near transit stations, in established areas with existing infrastructure or using vacant buildings.

“Governor Romney is committed to increasing the supply of housing, and these new resources will help our cities and towns prepare for it,” says Douglas I. Foy, secretary of the Office for Commonwealth Development.

The funds are being provided by the quasi-public agency MassHousing from its Priority Development Fund, a $100 million effort to increase housing production that was announced by Romney in January. The Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development will administer the planning funds on MassHousing’s behalf.

“This new funding is a terrific addition to our collection of planning resources that we offer to cities and towns,” says DHCD director Jane Wallis Gumble. “We are ready to start processing applications and I look forward to working with local officials who want to move their development plans forward.”

All cities and towns in Massachusetts are eligible to apply for up to $50,000 in planning assistance, although some larger awards may be considered. Program guidelines were drafted to encourage the new production of housing with an emphasis on mixed-income rental units. Priority will be given to applications that incorporate the principles of sustainable development, such as locating housing in proximity to existing infrastructure, community services, and public transportation.

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